In a musical genre such as jazz, which is characterised by a high level of professionalism and technical mastery, one must be careful when using such hackneyed phrases as ‘first-class talent’ or ‘Wunderkind’. Yet neither is an exaggeration when it comes to the two youthful enthusiasts behind SCHNTZL.

As the child of two classically trained musicians, pianist Hendrik Lasure was weaned on music. At a very young age, he decided to follow his own path and study jazz, inspired by his great idol Thelonious Monk. Perhaps it was written in the stars. After all, it’s no coincidence that he grew up in the Werfstraat in Bruges, about 100 metres from De Werf (today KAAP), still one of Belgium’s most important jazz venues, home to the record label W.E.R.F. and founding father of organisations such as JazzLab Series and the Belgian Jazz Meeting.

It was in that same De Werf that Lasure, just eleven-years-old, sat down publicly at a piano for the first time during a jam, too small to reach the pedals, but capable of leaving everyone present, including both jazz programmers, dumbfounded.

In this clip, you can see him as a 14-year-old performing the Charlie Parker standard ‘Donna Lee’:

Drummer Casper Van De Velde was also something of a child prodigy and played his first concert at the age of six. After practising in the local brass band for a few years, he then enrolled in the music academy where, thanks to saxophonist and teacher Erik Bogaerts, he caught the jazz bug. It was during a summer apprenticeship with the latter that Lasure and Van de Velde met for the first time and stated playing together, at the ages of twelve and fourteen respectively. It proved to be a match made in heaven and SCHNTZL was born. Barely three years later, and by winning the talent competition of the STORM! Festival, they were able to boldly put their name on the map in the jazz milieu.

After an intense period of creativity under the wings of KAAP, and a busy tour across Belgium and the Netherlands, they released their untitled debut album in 2016. An instant classic! In the space of twelve tracks, the listener is taken on a cinematic trip that goes beyond the limits of traditional jazz. Like two sponges, the musicians soak up influences from contemporary classical music, minimalism, rock and electronica, and then refine them into a sparkling and entirely idiosyncratic new sound.

The multifaceted nature of this record saw it garner critical acclaim from far beyond the traditional jazz world. The popular youth radio station StuBru played their single ‘Dame en Konijn’, prominent rock musicians included the record in their picks of the year, and even Flemish Minister of Culture Sven Gatz called SCHNTZL the best band that he had seen live in 2016, at the Belgian Jazz Meeting in KAAP for that matter. That the boys are not only musically creative is something they have demonstrated with their homemade DIY video for their single ‘Dame en Konijn’:

Interest continued to grow and the duo were not only featured on the programme of the Ghent Jazz Festival in 2017, but were also selected for the international showcase festival, 12 Points. It’s obvious: SCHNTZL is one of the absolute leaders of the new wave of promising young Belgian jazz groups. For two musicians who are still in their early twenties, this is an exceptionally auspicious beginning.

A fragment from their astonishing set during the 12 Points festival in Aarhus, Denmark:

Another inspiring live version of one of the tracks from their debut album. A perfectly dosed combination of subtle electronica, minimalism and jazz:

Contact information

Foto: (c) Thomas Geuens

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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