Donder

Portrait

We can confidently add the piano trio Donder to the list of groundbreaking Belgian jazz bands such as De Beren Gieren, SCHNTZL and Steiger. In all its simplicity, their understated 2016 debut album ‘Still’ not only confirmed the group’s immense talent but also garnered rave reviews from the United States and Europe.

 

In October 2017, they took part in the STORM! Contest – a competition for young groups organised by the arts centre KAAP, JazzLab Series and Jazzmozaïek – and masterfully bagged the top prize. Former winners include Nordmann and SCHNTZL, two bands whose careers rapidly took flight in the wake of the competition.

The jury included influential names such as radio presenter Lies Steppe, and musician and producer Koen Gisen. They had the following to say about the trio’s winning performance: “Donder stood out for their teamwork, the cohesion within the group, the preparation of the set, and their use of silence.”

You can see the entire set they performed at the international B-Jazz Contest here:

Just a few months later, they released their second album ‘Donder’, produced in-house, in which the trio is joined by the Danish saxophonist Lars Greve. This Danish connection is no coincidence. Bass player Stan Callewaert recently studied at Copenhagen’s Rhythmic Music Conservatory, where he fell in love with the local scene and the Scandinavian sound.

In this DIY video clip, you can hear the understated, sinister track ‘Secrets’ from the second album:

In 2019, Donder are returning to the intimacy of the trio, and with their third album ‘Keukenpraat’ on the Belgian W.E.R.F. Records label, they are proving that they are ready to break through in earnest. In ten tracks, the trio succeeds in immersing the listener in a sea of melancholy, where the message is ‘less is more’. No overabundance of solo flights of fancy or unnecessary frills here, but refined compositions in which every note has been picked with precision so as to serve the wider common goal.

A trained ear will detect clear references to the Scandinavian sound of ECM, the minimalist piano music of Nils Frahm and his Erased Tapes, or the Australian cultural phenomenon The Necks.

These young creatives have once again cobbled together a no-budget DIY video clip for the title track ‘Keukenpraat’:

Harrison Steingueldoir: piano
Stan Callewaert: double bass
Casper Van De Velde: drums, percussion

Photo by Pull & Over Photographs

 

Author:
Benny Claeysier

Benny Claeysier is a jazz promoter at KAAP Creative Compass (Bruges, Ostend) and manager of the W.E.R.F. label.

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