jesus is alright

jacki billet
elko blijweert
mathias broeckaert
stef kamil carlens
tomas de smet
dirk d'hooghe
aarich jespers
heyme langbroek
buni lenski
simon lenski
mark meyers
mauro pawlowski
rudy trouvé
sigrid van rosendael
craig ward
viking dave robertson
short discography [full discography]

in doc's place, friday evening (1996)
in the lost souls convention (1997)
in a service station (1999)

This is probably the oldest of Rudy’s bands. One of the projects that emerged from the Heavenhotel days, Kiss My Jazz is the coolest Belgian big band from the nineties. Describing what they sound like is just about an impossible task. It’s refreshing, diverse, silly, anarchistic, unpredictable and at times even confusing- what would you expect from a band which comments on one of it’s own tracks; ”Sort of No Wave thing- Most people will hate this one.

At it’s peak counting about 15 members, Kiss my Jazz produced very diverse music through the years. While Rudy Trouvé is the official frontman of the band, many members write songs, riffs, 4-tracks, lyrics or just about anything that can serve as material for the band.

Founded somewhere in 1991, they performed live from time to time at 'De Muziekdoos' or 'Cartoons café', both music-bars in Antwerp. Back then, it was mostly Rudy Trouvé (guitar/vocals), Jacki Billet (bass), Elko Blijweert (2nd guitar), Heyme Langbroeck (trumpet/sax) and Stef Kamil Carlens (drums/vocals) who were in the line-up. They played their music accompaning video-and TV-projections, often dressing as a bunch of transvestites. Their popularity was pretty much limited to a couple of enthusiasts back then- they probably were just too plain weird for any audience in the early nineties.
Consequently, they soon gave up on the projections and dressing-up part. After dozens of gigs dressing up and playing soundtracks, Kiss My Jazz wanted to start focussing on what really mattered: their music. The projections and silly transvestite-acts would stand in the way of that, so they were dropped.
After a while, around early 1994 or so, Aarich Jespers (drums), Mark Meyers (vocal), Dirk D’Hooghe (percussion/sax) and Mauro Pawlowski (guitar) joined the band. The line-up was never determined, sometimes guests joined, and sometimes members couldn't make it to a gig.
Kiss My Jazz was in the meantime getting a bit more popular, with some gigs across the Dutch boarder as a result. Three demo tapes were released back then; 'Sammy's Bad Day' (Sammy being Stef Kamil's dog), 'In Coffee and telephone calls', and 'Collecting postcards from foreign places'. As Kiss My Jazz slowly matured, two Scottish buskers (living in Antwerp) joined as well: Craig Ward and Viking Dave Robertson, although Viking Dave admits in an interview he thought Kiss My Jazz sucked at first…

The ‘philosophy’ of the band was to be like the compilation audiotapes they made when they were young; a mix of very diverse and varying styles, which everyone in the band liked. When asked by who they were influenced, Captain Beefheart, Tom Waits, Chet Baker and Louis Neefs get mentioned.

During 1995, the band started working on a first album. It was recorded mostly on fourtrack at home, and in their rehearsel room in Wommelgem. Early 1996, Kiss My Jazz presented their first album to the world: 'In Doc’s place, Friday evening’. It was an experimental feast, a lo-fi and eclectic adventure through the minds of a bunch of crazy weirdo's from Antwerp. Press was enthusiastic, and the album sold a couple of thousand copies in Belgium and the Netherlands - not bad for an album so bizarre and inaccessible.
But of course, sales were not important at all. Whoever has had the privilege of seeing Kiss My Jazz perform live, will testify all the band members ever wanted to do was have a great time on stage. (Often resulting in band members showing up completely drunk at their gigs)

Fall 1996 saw the release of a 10" vinyl, ‘In coffee we trust’. Both the album and the 10" were released with the aid of the Knitting Factory; a New York-based record company which supports mostly experimental jazz-style musicians. (Other Belgian bands that worked with them are X-Legged Sally, DAAU and Think of One)

The band kept on playing live, next to the numerous other projects of every band member. The band members also continuously kept on making four-track songs on their own in their bedrooms, or together as a band. In october 1997, the band released a new maxi cd, ‘Stained glass’. It was a teaser from the forthcoming new album, and a beautiful single in its own right. New guest-musicians had joined the band; Mathias Broeckaert (sax), Simon and Buni Lenski (from DAAU, playing cello and violin), and Oliver Defossez.
Later that year, the second album followed; ‘In the Lost souls convention’. It was an album in about the same style as the first- all of them. Disco, country, jazz, rock, children’s music, ballads, carousel music, - you name it, it’s on there. It was a more accessible cd than the first, and at the same time even more comprehensive than before.

After a live tour early 1998, Kiss My Jazz 'cooled down' a bit; there were occasional gigs and such, but 1998 was a busy year for Rudy Trouvé, with cds by Lionell Horrowitz, Dead Man Ray and Gore Slut being released in a very short amount of time.

Two years after 'In the Lost Souls Convention', time was ripe for a third full cd, 'In a Service Station'. (Accompanied by a 7” split single of ‘Easy Money’)
When asked what were the influences this time, Rudy Trouvé said they got a lot of inspiration from being so much on the road (with numerous bands) - therefor so many tracks are about trucks, gas stations and highway-restaurants.
Musically, things had been tempered down a bit- with the tracks being more focused on melody than on experiments with sounds and cheap 4-track recorders. Rudy’s explanation for this; “You see, I live on the third floor of a building. My electric guitar and amplifiers and such are all in the basement, and I’m a very lazy person. So I played more on my acoustic guitar because that way I never had to go all the way down to get my electric gear". Another remarkable thing are the numerous appearances of Viking Dave Robertson on the album, and he even wrote a more than a few tracks on it. He doesn’t take his songs too seriously though; "I get my inspiration from really cheap and bad TV-films".

Also on In a Service station is a ‘hidden’ mini-album, called ‘In a Ghosttruck’. It was a collection of ten tracks: some alternative versions of songs on ‘In a service station’, and some new songs which didn’t fit in between the tracks on the main album.
The album(s) got recorded with some very primitive equipment; simply two microphones which recorded when the band played most of the tracks live, like the old jazz musicians in the fifties. Rudy Trouvé: "each album we were getting more accessible, because we were playing together far better than we used to. It would be stupid to make the album inaccessible just for the sake of it, so to compensate a bit for this, we recorded the new tracks live".
And indeed, on their last tour it was clear the band had become a far more coherent unity, which played together effortlessly. In the Ancienne Belgique in Brussels, one of the very last gigs they did, the band was playing at times with eleven people on a tiny stage- never losing track.

To all beautiful thing smust come an end though, and in december 1999, rumour spread Kiss my jazz would split up after a final tour. Rudy Trouvé himself didn't want to make a fuss about it, and quietly hoped the band would simply 'fade away'. The news did get a lot of attention though, and suddenly everybody was mildly shocked. The last album was as good, if not better than the previous ones, so why would a band like Kiss My Jazz need stop? The reason for this is, Rudy Trouvé wanted to end in beauty. "Kiss My Jazz has reached the point where we’ve got nothing really new to add. We are now where we were heading to when we started, we have no goal anymore. It’s better to stop now than to go on forever, when we really shouldn't".
The band recorded one last track, for ‘Glittering 2000’, a compilation cd on which several Belgian bands covered long-forgotten tracks from the glamrock period in the seventies. Kiss my Jazz did Cumon feel the noise by Slade.

And so, the end of Kiss My Jazz was a fact. January 30th, the band did their last performance in the Ekko, Utrecht.
Of course, none of the band members really retired since. Most of them are still in bands as Gore Slut, Lionell Horrowitz, Wall of Sweat, Zita Swoon, Bad Influence, or are 'messing about' on their own.
A reunion of the band is not entirely out of the question, but still unlikely- at least not in the near future. There's no doubt that most band members can easily enjoy working on a new band more than picking up their dusty, old (but great) band again.
Kiss My Jazz is dead- long live Kiss My Jazz!

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