Ghent | On Friday, April 24, three lunch concerts will take place at Ghent University Hospital. This way, Gent Jazz, together with its festival partners Duvel and Piano’s Maene, wants to bring the jazz magic of the festival summer to the hospital. Jef Neve will take a seat behind the piano – offered by Piano’s Maene. Duvel in turn will take care of the live stream, so that not only the caretakers, but also the patients in their hospital room will be able to enjoy the concerts. Finally, people will also be able to follow the concerts on the Facebook page of Gent Jazz and Duvel – from the comfort of their own home!  

“I don”t think of myself as a jazz musician but a medicine man,” South African jazz legend Abdullah Ibrahim once said – long before various scientific studies showed that jazz music has, indeed, a healing effect.

“I could say that that gave us the idea to organise a number of concerts at UZ Gent,” says Gent Jazz director Bertrand Flamang, “but the truth is that we just felt like doing something. Especially for our care providers.” Flamang and his team were on the final stretch to Gent Jazz when the corona crisis hit. He admits that, at first, it felt very strange, the idea that Gent Jazz would not be able to organise any concerts this year. “But then we had a little brainstorm with Jef Neve, Duvel and Piano’s Maene, and we decided to set up small lunch concerts at UZ Gent.”

“When Bertrand called me, I didn’t hesitate for a second,” says Jef Neve. “Gent Jazz and Jazz Middelheim have been following my career almost from day one, and time and time again I get the chance to present my latest project there – something for which I am enormously grateful. Also this year I was going to present my new album at Jazz Middelheim, the sister festival of Gent Jazz. But unfortunately: no festivals this summer. However, if we can still work together in a beautiful way like this, yes please!”

For Duvel, too, this was an absolute no-brainer. “For years we have been passionately pouring our beer to the Gent Jazz audience,” says the company’s Jay Strubbe. “Unfortunately, that will not be the case this summer. But that doesn’t mean that people won’t be able to enjoy a jazz concert together with a Duvel anymore – in their own homes, of course! So, we are more than happy to contribute to this heartwarming initiative. And we really hope that, with these concerts, we can show our support to our healthcare heroes, and also provide a beautiful, intense moment to everyone watching the live stream.”

What was still missing from this story: three pianos for as many hospital wards!  “Bringing the piano to people in a positive way is one of our great motivations,” says Stefaan Vanfleteren of Piano’s Maene. “So, as a long-standing partner of both Gent Jazz and Jazz Middelheim, it seemed only normal to take our grand pianos to UZ Gent, where the battle against the coronavirus is fought every day. For us, this is simply a very humble, symbolic return for the unbelievable commitment and dedication of the nursing and medical staff in these very difficult times. Music heals and connects – now more than ever!”

The lunch concerts will take place on Friday, April 24 at three different times and locations – 11h (lung disease department), 12h (intensive care) and 13h (ER) – to give as many doctors, nurses and other hospital staff as possible the opportunity to attend one of the concerts. In addition, the concerts will be streamed to all hospital rooms and via the Facebook pages of Gent Jazz and Duvel, so that patients, visitors to the jazz festival and Duvel lovers will also have the chance to enjoy them.