By Tamkinat Tariq, photos by Kankanit Wiriyasajja
The Roots & Hybrid Festival presented as a faction of the SPOT Festival was a goldmine for fusion music. One of the bands that had caught international attention was, Black Flower. A Belgian, Ethio-jazz quintet, experimenting with Gypsy jazz and drawing most its musical inspirations from African traditions.
With an interesting choice of instruments, Black Flower brings to life a hybrid compilation of jazz with afrobeat, oriental and dub. The multitalented frontman, Nathan Daems masters the saxophone and the flute amongst other exotic wind instruments, like the Persian ney and the Turkish kaval. “For me, it’s about stories”, said Daems in a documentary made by Sdban Ultra. The band also includes Jon Birdsong behind the Cornet, Simon Segers on Drums, Filip Vandebril on Bass and Wouter Haest on the Keyboard.
“It’s kind of a democracy, a psychedelic democracy that has strange processes but always love and goodness”, said Birdsong in the same documentary.
Around 200 people gathered at the Den Rå Hal, Godsbanen, from youngsters to veteran jazz appreciators in an atmosphere that simmered with excitement. Yet, there was a strange sense of calm. With chairs and cushions set out on the floor for people to sit, the ambience encompassed a warm, familiar welcome – as if visiting a friend.
As the band started playing tunes from its latest album Future Flora, described by the members as a metaphor for “powerful and strong ideas”, a melodious trance seemed to descend on the crowd as they swayed and swooned to the charm of the flute. A musical free-flow that captured the audience with its mesmeric power and carried them to the otherworld of exotic jazz but at the same time, held their attention with its controlled and precise tempo.
There were no rules, no railings, no one to stop people from grooving to the undeniable call of the saxophone, the steady beat of the drums and the sweetness of the keys. A group of teenagers stood in front of the stage, dancing with their eyes closed, wholly immersed in the psychedelic symphonies of the band.
The show lasted for a bewitching hour. Towards the end, the song Hora de Aksum from the album Future Flora captivated the audience with its complicated intricacies and playful melodies. It was vastly amusing to see the cultivated musicians on stage control the crowd with their hypnotic tunes, and reminded one very much of the smooth suave of a snake charmer.
“It’s an interesting mix of little bit of jazz and a lot of folk”, said Helle (73) who attended the concert with her husband. “We’re great fans of the Roots & Hybrid and saw the description of the band in the catalogue”, she said.
Black Flower is definitely a band that deserves recognition and a place in your playlist, for its unconventional compositions and the beguiling allure it holds in its ethereal music.