Simon Van Brandt (Drums), Alexander Baboian (Guitar), Jef Manderveld (Bass), Milan Verbist (Piano), left to right. Photo by Dries Pasteels

New Jazz Quartet in Antwerp Has Roots in Mass.


ANTWERP, Belgium — On Sunday, October 2, a new jazz ensemble performed at the Beestenbos café in Antwerp, founded and led by jazz guitarist and composer Alexander Baboian, originally from Belmont, Mass. The quartet is composed of graduating master’s students from the Royal Conservatoire in Antwerp, Belgium. Their aim, Baboian explained, is “to bring the classic American Jazz and Blues sound of the ’40s – ’60s to new life through reviving some of the under-represented repertoire from several great Jazz composers.”

Among them are Horace Silver, Herbie Hancock, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, Billy Strayhorn, Duke Ellington, Wayne Shorter, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.

Baboian, born in Boston to a third-fourth generation Armenian family, began making music as a child, encouraged by his father and grandfather, both musicians. After completing undergraduate studies at Berklee College of Music in Boston in 2015 with a major in guitar performance, he spent three years in Berlin, as a freelance teacher and performer in various artistic projects. He then travelled to Armenia for graduate study at Yerevan State Conservatory. As a composition student with Artur Avanesov, he taught a course on Jazz improvisation. In 2020, he returned to Europe to pursue his education in music, this time at the conservatory in Antwerp.

And there, he decided to launch a new project with other three other graduate students. After the successful inaugural performance, the group intends to organize more shows.

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