A jazz view of Flanders with Lobke and Jaïr

4 November, 13:15 – 14:15

Lobke Aelbrecht (JazzLab), Jaïr Tchong (KAAP)

Belgium is just around the corner, but the Belgian jazz scene surely works in different ways than the Dutch. We asked two business experts – one native, one Dutch transplant – to shine a light on the situation in the Dutch-speaking regions. Make sure to prepare your questions for them!

Lobke Aelbrecht started working at JazzLab in 2019, after a few years at Flanders Arts Institute. She is mainly responsible for the production side and international projects. Lobke is a board member of European Jazz Network.

As a platform for the professional Belgian jazz scene, JazzLab brings the genre to a broader audience, with three pillars shaping the organisation. Briefly: JazzLab is an organiser of concert tours, a production house for new jazz creations, and a network enabler, both on a national and international level.

Each season, JazzLab tours around Flanders and Brussels with 8 to 10 projects or bands that represent the cream of today’s jazz crop at our partners’ stages, both at local arts centres as well as metropolitan concert halls. Those tours consistently combine emerging talents, new creations and household names with exciting projects. From sizzling experiments to finger-snapping swing, it all ends up in a JazzLab season.

The past 10 years, JazzLab has increasingly been focusing on (co-)productions that help musicians to develop their ambitious projects. To realise this, we can rely on our sustainable relations with partners who share our ambition to present the best of Belgian jazz. 

The dissemination and promotion of Belgian jazz happens via concert tours, but also by organising networking events. JazzLab yearly presents its new season to organisers during an event that is co-organised by VI.BE and cult! 

On the level of international promotion, the showcase festival Belgian Jazz Meeting has become an important European event for jazz professionals and an excellent platform for a selection of bands with international ambitions. Other international projects and collaborations include the recently founded international residency project Stepping Stone, offering tailor-made, career-oriented guidance to musicians. 

Jaïr Tchong started working for KAAP in december 2019 and lives in Ostend ever since. Before KAAP, he worked as a music promotor for Tolhuistuin and Melkweg, and as a journalist and cultural advisor in Amsterdam. He is deeply moved and motivated by the incredible depth and scale of the Belgian (jazz)music scene. Says Jaïr: “Arts Centre KAAP is active in Bruges and Ostend. In Ostend we organise around fifteen concerts on an annual basis, and the Dansand festival, which also includes off beat live music, every two years in July at various locations throughout the city. In Bruges, we organise Jazz Bruges in the Concertgebouw Bruges every two years, and the annual discovery festival AMOK during the first ten days of October. Whereas in Ostend we focus on jazz and jazz-related music, AMOK is a discovery festival in which we also present current and groundbreaking music, performance and literature/debate beyond the well-known borders. KAAP is the only arts centre with its own record label: W.E.R.F. Records, ‘the finest in Belgian jazz since 1993’, curated by my colleague Benny Claeysier. Many artists from our label tour in kind cooperation with Jazzlab.”

Lobke Aelbrecht
Jaïr Tchong