ACT BIG BAND : an amazing "jazz machine" !
Since its foundation, in 1978, ACT BIG BAND has become a real institution on the Belgian jazz scene.
Born as the result of an initiative of drummer Félix SIMTAINE, and under the musical direction of pianist and composer/arranger Michel HERR, this pureblood jazz big band is a sound machine of great precision.
Jean-Pol SCHROEDER wrote : "It is true that the work that he has done within his big band, is comparable to this of the assembling great masters in jazz history : Mingus, Ellington, Miles..."
ACT BIG BAND gathers some of the best soloists in the country, the majority of whom lead their own groups.
ACT BIG BAND plays many compositions by Belgian musicians, mainly :
Michel HERR (Toots Thielemans, WDR, etc)
Bert JORIS (Joe Haider/Mel Lewis Big Band)
and also :
Francy BOLAND (Clarke-Boland Big Band)
Jean WARLAND (WDR, Clarke-Boland)
Arnould MASSART (Avogadro, Maurane).
In 1986, the" Conseil de la Musique de la Communauté Française de Belgique" commissioned several new pieces for Act Big Band to the above mentioned composers.
The band appeared in numerous festivals in Belgium and abroad :
Jazz Middelheim in Antwerp (radio/TV), Festival "Jazz à Liège" (TV), Brosella, Gaume Jazz Festival, Festival of the Lundis d'Hortense (Botanique), and numerous concerts for the City of Brussels, the Brussels Jazz Rally, the Brussels Jazz Marathon, various high schools (University of Liège, of Louvain-la-Neuve, Lemmens Instituut in Leuven), Museum of Modern Art in Paris, Centre Beaunord, Jazz Festival of Lille, Maison de la Culture of Sedan, Théâtre Municipal of Charleville-Maisières, Casino of Sarreguemines (France), Music Festival of Dudelange (Lux.), Festival of Terneuzen (Holland), etc...
The band appeared on numerous radio and tv shows on RTBF, BRTN, etc...
Several well known musicians have been members of ACT BIG BAND or have played with it :
John RUOCCO, Guy CABAY, Toots THIELEMANS, Steve HOUBEN, Joe LOVANO, Bill FRISELL, Joe Lee WILSON, Jon EARDLEY.
Co-leader and musical director of the orchestra, Michel HERR is an unavoidable figure of Belgian jazz. As a pianist he is internationally known. He is has been closely associated with Toots THIELEMANS for two decades and leads his own groups.
His writing talents have been recognized worldwide.
Félix SIMTAINE is a living monument of Belgian jazz. He has been active for more than three decades.
He appeared all over the world in the biggest festivals with an impressive number of celebrities and soloists and signs a voluminous discography.
In '96 he presented his solo CD "Intensive Act" on Igloo records.
In '98, ACT BIG BAND celebrated its 20th anniversary and made an acclaimed performance at the Liège Jazz festival.
The same year, the band was elected best Belgian big band of the year '98, both in the listeners poll (RTBF/VRT) and the critics poll (French speaking).
In September '99, ACT BIG BAND was featured in the exceptional concert "100 Years of Jazz in Wallonia" in Liège, playing music by Francy BOLAND, SADI, Jean WARLAND, Michel HERR...
Act Big Band made a brief and spectacular comeback during the Dinant Jazz Nights 2011.
See also Félix SIMTAINE's new project : TEN-TAMARRE