Walter Baeken was born in Neerpelt (Belgium) in 1965. Because of his innate love for music he began studying at the age of nine at the local Academy of Music and decided to make the saxophone his musical partner. A teenager, he played alto and tenor saxophone in many ensembles such as woodwind bands, a saxophone quartet, even in pop bands. At that time he wrote his first compositions for “Imago Tijl”, a dance group in which he had danced for 6 years.
At the age of 18, he decided to become a professional musician and enrolled at the Antwerp Royal Flemish Conservatory of Music. He completed his academic training and received music diplomas for solfege, saxophone and music pedagogy. During this period he explored his musical boundaries more and more. One of his teachers, trombone player Leo Verheyen, made him acquainted with contemporary classical music. A new love was born!. Walter started to perform in many classical and avant-garde ensembles. Moreover, he gave a solo performance at the renowned Ars Musica festival in Brussels in 1988. Another of his favourite musical occupations in this period was playing swinging jazzmusic with a band, called “The New Symphonic Syncopators”.
Whether jazz, funk, pop, world music or classical, Walter has played all of these musical styles after graduating. From 1990 till 1995 he was a member of high-energy funk-jazz groups like “Real Deal” and “the DSWB quartet”. He also made his first recordings at that time. At the end of the nineties he played world music with “Kunda Buffi” and “Native Soil”, jazz with The Musetrap (the Jan Muës ensemble) and touched many hearts during the Guido Belcanto tour.
Since 2001 his interest for film has created an extra musical dimension through the soundtracks he has composed for silent movies such as “Berlin, die Sinfonie der Grobstadt“ (W. Ruthmann, 1927), accompanied live by the Scora Quartet. Lately he has performed regularly with “The Very Big Band”, the salsa-band “Sonbacan”, and participated in projects such as “Sahara Blues” & “Chams” (Moroccan music). Nowadays his musicianship is mainly focused on his work with “The Rhythm Junks” featuring harmonica virtuoso Steven de Bruyn.
A multifaceted musician, Walter Baeken does not only play his horn, he also composes and arranges classical and contemporary music for a variety of ensembles. He is also busy working as a session musician on many CD-recordings. What’s more, he wrote, together with pianist Dirk Schreurs, a study book named “Jazzics, systematische jazzharmonie, -analyse en oefeningen als voorbereiding op improvisatie” (1993).
Walter deliberately wants to share his passion for musical experiences with other people. He taught music at the Music Academy of Noordlimburg and the Brussels Royal Conservatory of Music. Today he works as a saxophone teacher at the Music Academy in Mortsel (Antwerp).