Greenhouse Talent took over the organization of this year’s multi-day festival Gent Jazz on its 2023 edition. I can’t really describe the excitement I felt while crossing the doors of the Bijloke, this year as a photographer, and the excitement was growing with the queue that was being formed at the same time on the fourth day of the festival, as the festival was starting with a slight delay. But Gent Jazz is one of those festivals were you can just feel how laid back the ambience is, there is no angry people demanding answers, and once they have a fresh drink in their hands, and while the sun was warming up everyone’s skin and heart, all you need to do is relax and wait for the show to commence.
For me, being there caught a different dimension. Imagine being there, as one more person attending the festival, watching all those photographers having fun front row, and thinking how amazing would it be to be one of those. Well, that’s what happened to me. Just that my excitement went down when I learnt that pictures will be taken from FOH, which means were the sound and light techs are located. That translates to a nightmare for a photographer without a tele-lens and a big zoom. But as you will see below, I managed!
The headliner of the day was Norah Jones, the American singer known for songs like Come Away with me, or Don’t know why, that were sang towards the end of her performance, delighting all the audience. Norah sat there, behind the piano, showing her music in its purest form, without any extravaganza, without much words or explanations about her songs, just her music. She was briefly joined on stage by the previous singer Mavis Staples, who released "I'll Be Gone" in 2019. From the moment that her band members put a foot on stage, they had the audience to start moving and dancing at their beats, ready to welcome the legend herself on stage with them. Still at her age it’s amazing the energy she can transmit through her singing and her songs, and engaging with a seated public that she even made stand up to dance at her tunes. We could witness some cute moments when Mavis was patting on the back the guitar player after his solos.
Earlier on, in the main stage there was also Laufey, coming from Los Angeles and former winner of The Voice Iceland. If the day wasn’t emotional enough for me, having her singing about love and heartbreak, with her extremely sweet voice, exposing her vulnerability to the public, either behind the guitar or the piano, made it difficult to handle emotions. I think some people in the audience might have identified with her songs, singing about the love to someone who is like a friend to you and it is not corresponded, or like trying to stay away from a guy but ending up calling him anyway and hating yourself for that. Her new album will be released soon, Bewitched, and she ended the set with a very catchy bossanova song, again about love, being in love with your best friend but not being corresponded.
The first on the Main Stage that afternoon was Jon Muq, who sang songs about his life, explaining what each and every one of them meant to him, like when we had to left his country to go to US, without support from anyone, as he didn’t even speak English at the time. And so he left. Although he was singing his whole set in a very good English, showing his warm personality and summer tunes, perfect for that hot Saturday.
There was no time for boredom during performances as the garden stage was covering the gaps in between. In that stage we could witness groups like Kristo, Schroopthoop, which played twice, and Bandler Ching, that I unfortunately missed, although I had already seen hem at the Brosella Spring Festival in Brussels, earlier this year. It was in the Garden stage that I realise some Dutch would be handy, and the bands were giving some explanations during their sets that I could not fully understand. Nevertheless, Schroopthoop didn’t need much explanation, using almost any PMC contained you could find in any household and turning it into an instrument putting together an amazing and entertaining set.
zaterdag 08 juli 2023, Gent Jazz 2023 (Gent, BE) | Foto's & tekst: Cristina Vergara