Monday, May 11, 2015

Peter Jacquemyn

Peter Jacquemyn (1963 Schaarbeek, Belgium) moves easily between the visual arts and music. As a sculptor he assaults tree trunks with axe and chainsaw. His concerts are just as spectacular: with unbridled energy he lovingly wrestles his double bass.
It is a battle in which all means are fair: bows (1, 2 or 3), dented soda cans, plastic bags, crumpled paper, mutes, horns, retuned strings,...

He is a sculptor working, for example, wood with a chain saw - some examples of his work can be seen here - but also a self-taught bass player. Although he is a longstanding member of the Belgian WIM - Werkgroep Improviserende Muzikanten (WIM) (Association of Improvising Musicians) - playing concerts since 1984, he has only recently begun to release recordings.

This amazing gap of fifteen years was based on Jacquemyn's view that improvised music changes every time it is played (and listened to) and that it should not be controlled and ossified by recording. His first recordings were released in 1999 (three of them) and one of these (the duo with Gunda Gottschalk), together with the later solo disc, were a deliberate attempt to present a range of possibilities recorded over a period of time rather than the documentation of a live situation.


He has played in a wide variety of ad hoc situations with musicians such as Fred Van Hove, Jacques Palinckx, Peter Kowald, Conrad Bauer, Wolfgang Fuchs, Takashi Yamane, La Donna Smith, Jo Truman, Michael Moore, Ernst Reijseger, Floros Floridis, Daunik Lazro, Barre Phillips, Roger Turner, John Edwards, Joëlle Léandre, and Phil Minton.

Current working groups include:
  • André Goudbeek Quartet with Bart Maris, trumpet and Dirk Wauters, percussion
  • V2 duo with André Goudbeek
  • trio with Jeffrey Morgan, saxophone and Mark Sanders, percussion
  • duo with Gunda Gottschalk, violin
  • Dubbelduo with Peter Kowald, Jeffrey Morgan and André Goudbeek
  • duo with Geurt Grossfled, flute 

He has also worked with dancers such as Maria Clara Villa-Lobos (Brazil), Fien Sulmont (Belgium) and Anouk Llaurent (France). Jacquemyn shows a tremendous physicality when he plays, using drink cans, nails, two bows and sometimes all at once. He has said: 'I try to break down the barriers between my instrument and myself: I want to get insude, to be my bass. I don't think while I play, everything just happens; every action produces sound, every sound brings new ideas, the music makes itself.

A bass is such a wonderful thing, a big piece of wood and four strings which you can pluck or bow or hammer or caress or... you just don't have enough hands to do it all. It can sound like a big drum or whisper like a small Tibetan fiddle. This instrument can support almost everything: sometimes I want a sound large like a cathedral, sometimes it has to be soft, like silk, sometimes it has to be sharp like a knife.'

All of this ranges Peter Jacquemyn among Belgium's most interesting improvisers with a very justified international reputation.


1995-9 E pericoloso sporgersi, Valve #7099. Gottschalk/Jacquemyn.

1998 Sign of the raven, Üton CD15. Jacquemyn/Morgan/Sanders.

1999 As it happened, WIMprovijf CD 310399. André Goudbeek Quartet.

1999 Kontrabass solo, Logos Publiek Domein LPD 005.

2001 Deep music, Free elephant 003. Peter Kowald in duo with William Parker and with Peter Jacquemyn.

2001 Arachnida, WIMprozeven CD 050401. MLF 7.

2002 Open density, Forward.rec 04. Bechegas/Goodbeek/Jacquemyn.

2003 Baggerboot, Henceforth records 102. Gottschalk/Jacquemyn/Völker.

2005 AGiiiiR, Free elephant 010. André Goudbeek/Christine Wodrascka/Peter Jacquemyn/Lê Quan Ninh.

2007 Hear here now, (K-RAA-K)3 K055. Rhythm Section + Fred Van Hove.

2008 Uwaga, Not Two MW 859. André Goudbeek/Lê Quan Ninh/Peter Jacquemyn.

2008 Burns longer, Balance Point Acoustics BPA-2 (Digital only release). Fred Van Hove/Damon Smith/Peter Jaquemyn.

2009 In remebrance of the human race, Not Two MW 856. The Kris Wanders Outfit.

2013 Quintet - Phil Minton + Audrey Chen + Guy Segers + Peter Jacquemyn + Teun Verbruggen - Sub Rosa SR311

2014 Dig Deep - ChampdAction, 2014

RT: On stage, you use plastic bags or old cans as music instruments.  What inspired you to use these materials in such a way?
PJ: I never had any music education, so I was forced to find out myself how to play the bass. Because of my lack of any technique I had to find my own answers... Developing your own language, a very personal approach and technique is common business in fine arts. Experimenting beyond the tradition is almost a necessity in fine arts education. That's what I also did in music. I played a lot with very gifted pianists and electric guitarists, being almost jealous about their sound-, dynamic- and harmonic possibilities. I had to develop my own strategy to deal with it, preparing the bass in a way that gave it an almost unlimited wide range of sound possibilities. My bass can sound like a little Tibetan fiddle or like an enormous church-organ...