Bert Joris


‘Lyricism’ is an indefinable concept. But it is one that every jazz fan understands when they hear the name Bert Joris. His distinctive trumpet sound has become a musical beacon for all that is lyrical and melancholic in jazz.

A trumpeter, composer, arranger, conductor and teacher, Joris has achieved a unique place in the Belgian jazz scene, and a reputation that stretches far beyond. Whether heard during his performances with the former BRT orchestra or through his more recent quartet recordings for Dreyfus, his style is instantly recognisable. It is a characteristically soft and honeyed sound that sets him apart from the trilling of many other performers.

Stylists such as Dado Moroni, Philippe Aerts and Dré Pallemaerts, who have formed his permanent quartet for many years now, create the ideal landscape in which Bert Joris’ sound can thrive and come into its own. Whether he has been heavily influenced by someone like Chet Baker – who, coincidentally, spent a lot of time in Belgium – is another story. That his trumpet playing exudes a similar melancholy and singular beauty is, however, undeniable. Due to the widespread esteem in which this style is held, Bert Joris has earned himself a spot among Europe’s leading trumpeters.

Joris is also a critically-acclaimed composer and arranger whose scores share the same feeling for colour and soft tonal gradations as his playing. Thanks, in part, to his long-standing collaboration with the leading ensemble that is the Brussels Jazz Orchestra (BJO), Joris’ style has become increasingly refined and indivisibly linked to the unique artistic path that has carved for himself. Soloists such as Philip Catherine, Richard Galliano and Enrico Pieranunzi have been able to wallow in the colour palette that he has drawn for them in collaboration with the BJO. It is not uncommon for him to perform as a soloist on the trumpet.

In recent years, Joris has also become a world-renowned teacher who is much in demand. Carrying with him a broad repertoire of his own, he is devoted to passing on to his students the world over, not only his qualities as a trumpeter, but also the realm of jazz harmony, arrangement and tone. And his students, in turn, are inevitably charmed by their teacher’s unassuming but authentic personality. Like a painter who knows just when to stop, and with only a few modest weapons at his disposal, Joris can breathe beauty and lyricism into jazz like no other.

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Foto: (c) Jos Knaepen

Roel Vanhoeck

Roel Vanhoeck is a jazz promoter at BOZAR (Brussels)

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