International musicians – Masters and students – Play jazz in Antwerp
ANTWERP, Belgium – “It was a really cool experience working with him and playing, especially after a hard winter of isolation!” This is how Alexander Baboian described a musical event in which he participated with Belgian colleagues and a special guest from Africa. The event was a concert on March 22 at a jazz club called De Singer, in Rijkevorsel, not far from Antwerp. And the special guest was a “unique and exceptional jazz guitarist from West Africa”, Lionel Loueke.
Alexander Baboian is an Armenian-American jazz guitarist and composer from Belmont, Mass., currently studying at the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp. As part of its “Breathing Project”, a program launched 10 years ago, the Conservatory has provided artistic and logistical support to jazz students and, in this context, invites international artists to come and coach students.
The famous guitarist Lionel Loueke was born in 1973 in Benin and studied in France as well as in the United States at the Berklee College of Music in Boston (where Baboian’s father, John Baboian taught guitar for a long time) and at the Thelonious Monk Institute . He has worked with great jazz artists such as Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Terence Blanchard and is known for a unique blend of African and jazz elements in his music. His mentor, Herbie Hancock, called him “a musical painter”. A group of students in Antwerp were invited to prepare a set of his original compositions under his direction, in a series of master classes. After studying and rehearsing intensively for a week with him, they go on stage together and perform in concert.
Featured composer, singer and guitarist Lionel Loueke was joined by Milan Verbist on piano, Jef Manderveld on double bass, drummer Simon Van Brandt, trumpeter Cedric de Lat and guitarist Alexander Baboian.
From Boston to Berlin… and Yerevan
Alexander Baboian was born in Boston, into a 3rd/4th generation family. His father and grandfather introduced him to the world of music at an early age and he completed his undergraduate studies at Berklee College of Music in Boston. There he specialized in performing as a guitarist, focusing primarily on jazz and developing as an instrumentalist. He is a Magna Cum Laude graduate and has twice received the Guitar Department’s Excellence Award.