30 April: International Jazz Day

Claudia Druwé - 29 Apr 2020

Thursday 30 April marks the 9th edition of International Jazz Day. This day was designated by UNESCO in order to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role in uniting people in all around the globe.

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To mark the day we interviewed Lode Mertens, a well-known musician in the Belgian Jazz scene. It is the perfect opportunity for us to support our local artists and to feature Belgian Jazz festivals. We asked him five questions relating to his career, jazz and the impact of the current crisis on his work.

Could you introduce yourself briefly?

I am a trombonist and composer for the Brussels Jazz Orchestra and OTOMACHINE. I am also active as a freelance jazz trombonist. In addition, I teach at the conservatories in Ghent and Brussels and at the local art school in Geraardsbergen.

Why did you choose to play jazz?

Jazz gives you a lot more freedom than classical music does. In classical music, there isn’t a lot of room for interpretation. Jazz gives you a lot of space for improvisation. Initially, this requires a lot of energy and practice, but at the end, it gives you wings.

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Why is jazz important to you?

It’s not just jazz that is important to me, music in its entirety is vital. Just imagine a world without music…

What is your favorite jazz album?

There are so many… I’ll choose one: MAGNETIC by Steps Ahead.

What is the impact of the current situation on your job as a musician?

Like for many other self-employed people, everything has been put on hold. For now, this is until the end of August here in Belgium, but I have a suspicion that the cultural sector will be one of the last sectors to start up again. Especially for us, we usually play at cultural centers and festivals, places where there’s usually a lot of people…

We currently have 13 Belgian festivals on FestivalFinder.eu, you can attend if you want to listen to some fine jazz. They are all great festivals: definitely worth checking out in the years to come.

Belgian Music Days

BIG BANG Festival

Sfinks Mixed

Sfinks Mundial

Boombal Festival


Bach Academie Brugge

Brosella Festival


OLT Rivierenhof

Flanders Festival Ghent


Europees Muziekfestival voor de Jeugd vzw

If you want to celebrate International Jazz Day, but you don’t want to leave your house, you still can. The 9th edition of International Jazz Day is taking place virtually, with a global concert hosted by jazz legend Herbie Hancock and masterclasses by international jazz artists in six languages. You can find the schedule and the live stream here.

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