Flat Earth Society (Belgium)

November 16, 22:00 | Contemporary Art Centre

Flat Earth Society (Belgium)

Peter Vermeersch – composer, cl
Peter Delannoye – tbn
Rob Banken – asax
Michel Mast – tsax
Bruno Vansina – bsax
Berlinde Deman – tba
Bart Maris – tpt
Marc Meeuwissen – tbn
Marti Melia Margañon – cl
Kristof Roseeuw – db
Pauline Leblond – tpt
Peter Vandenberghe – p, keys
Teun Verbruggen – perc
Wim Segers – vib
Frederik Leroux Roels – gtr

Controlled chaos by the Flemish Flat Earth Society big band at the Vilnius Mama Jazz Festival

To the extent the supporters of the flat earth theory are negatively “loony”, the Belgium Flat Earth Society big band is positively “loony”.  The band, which celebrates its 20-year jubilee, can fuel a fiery party where, it seems, is a place only for traditional sounds thus creating a spectacle which could be called a professionally manufactured chaos.

The project started in 1998. Peter Vermeersch, a former architect, virtuoso of clarinet, saxophone and keyboards, who became the leader of the band, went ahead with expanding the horizons of jazz from the very start.  The previous avant-garde escapades of the leader in his group X-Legged Sally served as an “opening act” to the 14-member team who play like a completely free operating, but a well-oiled outfit, where listening to each other and taking cues, audacity and improvisations go hand in hand.

Vermeersch is an undisputed leader of the band and has shared the stage with such musicians as Josse de Pauw, Wim Vandekeybus, Vincent Ball, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker or Fred Frith and wrote music for such collectives as Arditti Quartet, Prima La Musica and The Smith Quartet. Called one of the godfathers of the Belgian music scene, Vermeersch has contributed to pop, avant-garde and jazz music, and this experience culminates in the orchestrations of the Flat Earth Society.

Moving between the established pieces and free improvisations, members of the big band dive into original music encounters inspired by the classics of the genre. They are brave to make extraordinary choices and allow for the music to pulsate and the musicians to be punk, disregarding conventional forms. As a result, the heavy rock elements, well recognizable motifs and the greatness of the 14-piece band hit you like a spontaneous musical wave. The most interesting thing is however, that the music of the Flat Earth Society never goes off the rails. Dancing and tumbling chords and notes seem to know where they belong, what comes next, and that they will never be forgotten.

Out of all these experiences a stirring masterpiece of progressive jazz emerges which accommodates both a rich musical note and a good kick in the butt.