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B-JAZZ 2017: Help Young Belgian Jazz Musicians Realize Their Dreams

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Although governments in Europe are withdrawing their subsidies for the performing arts and life is getting more and more difficult for performing artists to earn their living, the jazz scene in Europe continues to forge ahead.

Music colleges, academies, conservatories and jazz institutes are attracting more young musicians than they can enroll. The number of jazz and world music festivals are proliferating. The challenge is to ensure that emerging artists receive a platform to perform, earn a living, whilst keeping up the quality standards of their music.

When talking about jazz in Europe, we tend to think about jazz in the Nordic (Scandinavian) countries, about jazz in France, Britain or The Netherlands, but we often forget the smallest country in the center of Europe, namely Belgium.

But Belgium deserves attention.

First, it's the place of birth of jazz legends including Django Reinhardt (considered as one of the greatest guitar players of all time and founding father of the Jazz Manouche) and Toots Thielemans (who passed away this year–he originated a new sound into Jazz by whistling and playing the guitar, he played the harmonica in “Bluesette” and he was the perennial winner of Down Beat readers and critics polls in the category of “miscellaneous instruments." It is also the place of birth of Jos Knaepen, better known as the “The Jazzman”, a jazz-photographer who managed to capture many “goosebump” moments of the greatest jazz musicians in the last 50 years.

Secondly, Belgium is the country where some of the leading jazz festivals are organized every year (Jazz Gent, Jazz Middelheim in Antwerp, Brussels Jazz Festival, Djangofollies, Leuven Jazz, B-Jazz, Jazz à Liège, Jazz in’t Park, Gaume Jazz Festival, Leffe Jazz nights, Comblain Jazz Festival, Brosella, and many others).

One of the unique festivals is B-Jazz.

Organized since many years by a Belgian Jazz Magazine, Muziekmozaïek, the B-Jazz International Contest is a renowned international contest for Jazz musicians under the age of 30. Young and ambitious musicians and ensembles get the chance to present themselves on stage, in front of a jury and an audience. This contest attracts many musicians from all over the world.

This year, the professional jury of jazz experts has pre-selected 31 bands out of 102 enrolled candidates. From the 31 remaining ensembles.

About Marithé Van der Aa

One remarkable and talented international jazz ensemble, founded in Berlin in 2014 by the now 20 year old Belgian Jazz vocalist (and author of the All About Jazz column Philosophisticated Lady) Marithé Van der Aa. Van der Aa was born in Belgium, but spent most of her childhood in England where she took lessons at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. At the age of nine she enrolled at a local music academy, she received private tuition in classical singing and piano and at the age of 16, she started her Jazz-education in Belgium. After having completed secondary school, she auditioned with success at various Music Conservatories in Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany, and she finally opted for the Jazz Institute Berlin, part of the University of Arts, where she was admitted at the age of 17 as one of the youngest jazz vocalist students ever. Van der Aa is still studying in Berlin. Musicians in the Marithé Van der Aa Quartet include Israeli pianist and composer Daniel Schwarzwald, German double bassist Jonathan Nagel and German drummer Andreas Kunert.

Together this international jazz quartet brings a wide repertoire, ranging from their own compositions, over fresh and jazzy interpretations of medieval folk songs and contemporary music to arranged standards.

We invite you to endorse this remarkable, young and talented quartet by voting for the Marithé Van der Aa Quartet.

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