Mâäk / MikMâäk

Portraits

"Mâäk" is a cry, instigated by Laurent Blondiau, the trumpet player and founder of the group together with tenor saxophonist Jeroen van Herzeele. It’s a way of saying on stage "Hey, this sounds cool... Come on guys, let’s push it further!” In 1998, Blondiau and van Herzeele joined forces with double bass player Sal La Rocca and the Dutch drummer Hans van Oosterhout. They formed a quartet dedicated to performing Ornette Coleman’s music along with original compositions, but always with the aim of maximising improvisation.

Very quickly the team transformed in accordance with the urges and moods of the compositions: Eric Thielemans, Otti van der Werf, Jean-Yves Evrard, Guillaume Orti, João Lobo and others played in the group, which today stabilises around four blowers and a drummer: Laurent Blondiau, Michel Massot, Jeroen van Herzeele, Grégoire Tirtiaux and Samuel Ber.

As the musicians love to interact with the audience, Mâäk is at its best doing unusual performances on (extra)ordinary places. Just think of the project Il n’y a pas de fraises en hiver (‘There are no strawberries in winter’) - an initiative of guitarist Jean-Yves Evrard. It was born as a sort of itinerant happening which to date has been staged some forty times in the most unlikely of places: a washhouse, a butcher's, a hairdresser's, a garage, a canteen, and Brussels National Airport, to name but a few. The result was music that always felt improvised, festive, and surprising.

Drawn by African rituals and trance music, Laurent Blondiau often travels between Morocco, Mali, Benin, Burkina Faso and South Africa to create new musical projects: Stroke saw the group collaborate with South African spoken word artists. The 2004 album Al Majmaâ featured Gnawa Express de Tanger from Morocco. On the 2017 release MwSOUL
the band has worked with oud player Moufadhel Adhoum and singer Ghalia Benali from Tunisia. And at the occasion of the collective’s 20th anniversary last year, the musicians caught up with the Beninese musicians family Anagoko to perform as Kojo, a fusion of Mâäk’s trademark sound with that of the sacred Vodun music.

 

Mâäk describe their sound as intellectual music, but music which seeps into the bones, which grabs you by the arm and doesn’t let go. Their latest project is called MikMâäk, a large formation of sixteen musicians in which order and structure is kept to a minimum and the wind of freedom and instantaneous pleasure is allowed to blow freely. The artistic direction lies in the hands of Laurent Blondiau and pianist Fabian Fiorini. After their debut album MikMâäk, the band releases a new live album in October 2019.

Photo © Laurent Poiget

Author:
Jean-Pierre Goffin

Jean-Pierre Goffin (1953) has been writing jazz cronicles, interviews and concert reviews for the magazine L'Avenir for more than 20 years already. He also writes for several websites and magazine LARSEN

Terug naar boven