Belgian contemporary jazz. On W.E.R.F. Records!


Laughing Bastards

€ 25,95
  • LP
W.E.R.F. Records
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On their latest album, Laughing Bastards prove they are a quintessential Belgian band - soaking up sounds and influences from all over the place while maintaining a tight unity - with an international appeal. Combining jazz and chamber music with ideas from pop music and multi-colored strains does not only give their music an iridescent edge, but also keeps the interplay fresh and inspired, something to return to while waiting to see them live on stage.

Ever since their auspicious beginnings, more than a decade ago, Laughing Bastards have giddily delighted in impurity. Initially a reeds-guitar-bass trio modeled after the classic Jimmy Giuffre 3, the band has remained truthful to its original spirit. Saxophone player Michel Mast and guitarist Jan-Sebastiaan Degeyter have remained its core, but the band went through several permutations, first welcoming Eline Duerinck (cello) and Marcos Della Rocha (for Unanimal in 2019) and solidifying its present-day line-up with bassist Cyrille Obermüller.

Bastards. It's kind of a rude word to throw around carelessly, but there has always been that element of being irregular, being too stubborn to comply with what is expected, that has set them apart. This is nowhere more evident than in the material contributed by Degeyter, who wrote more than half of the album's compositions. A talented illustrator and designer (he created a few of their striking album covers) as well as a versatile guitarist, Degeyter always manages to add a strong visual component to his material. In combination with his knack for pulling exotic influences into the band's overall sound, it leads to a playful, cinematic eccentricity.

"Tigraman" and "Black Spoon" are examples of this. Both are infused with an Ethiopian-tinged sound, but while the first one develops the catchy throbbing of a trance-like soul/rock tune, the second exudes the lush cadence of Golden Age Ethio jazz, the kind that gets under your skin with those sensual, irrepressible rhythms. They are a nice match with the increasing drama of the Slavic-tinged "Red Lemon", the slow, dreamy flow of the Jamaican dance hall-inspired "Sand", a strong feature for Duerinck, and "Dosi", that shows Obermüller's knack for propulsive melody.

The synesthete in Degeyter gets free reign in "Calliope", chamber jazz in which sweeping sax and cello are kept grounded by guitar, bass and drums. Mast's odd meter-song "Fetish" is another showcase for the band's effortless dancing and some gorgeous tenor schmooze. Della Rocha's "Turquoise" starts off in brooding, contemplative way and keeps simmering on a low, glowing fire. To top it off, there are a few covers that remind you of the band's origins. A new take on Giuffre's rootsy "The Train and the River" stresses their loose flexibility with an Americana style somewhat reminiscent of Charlie Haden, while Carla Bley's evergreen "Vashkar" gets a carefully constructed makeover to close out the album with grace.



  • 1.Tigraman
  • 2.Red Lemon
  • 3.Black Spoon
  • 4.Sand
  • 5.Dosi


  • 1.Turquoise
  • 2.Fetish
  • 3.The Train And The River
  • 4.Calliope
  • 5.Vashkar

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