A taste of Thunderblender at Ham Sessions 2017

Michel Mast, solely responsible for putting together the program of Ham Sessions, invites Thunderblender - Sam Comerford (tenor sax/bas sax), Hendrik Lasure (piano), Jens Bouttery (drums, bas synth) to play at his festival. I tried racking up some information in advance.

Sam Comerford © Joris Lasure

Thunderblender is “a trio led by you”, it says on the website. Why and how did you choose Hendrik and Jens to be your companions?

Sam Comerford: ‘When I arrived in Brussels I had been working as a sideman for years, and wanted to start a group to play my own compositions. I first met Hendrik through the Flemish Conservatory, and was immediately struck by his openness, musically and personally. I tend to write quite dense, dissonant music, and Hendrik has a way of making it sound beautiful, light and open, something I think the music often needs. I had heard him with Casper Van De Velde with SCHNTZL and loved how he was able to play in an open yet melodic way, and fill out bass parts without sounding like an imitation of a bass player on piano. I first saw Jens play at the Chat-Pitre in Brussels. His playing was so compelling that I found myself completely lost in the music, the surrounding world disappearing in the moment. When I asked him to play the music we had never really met, but it immediately sounded right.’

Thunderblender © Pepa Niebla

How would you describe the music the trio makes?

Sam Comerford: ‘The basic idea of the music is that it is always moving between order and chaos, written and improvised music. It sounds like moments of quiet beauty, unexpected textures, heavy grooves, and dense contrapuntal writing.  A lot of the pieces are kind of suites that take the listener on a long journey, with lots of room for interpretation by the band. The written music has many layers to it, and can go in many directions.  In the way the material is written for improvising, composers such as Tim Berne and Henry Threadgill are strong inspirations. I want to be surprised by the music every time, and I think that that energy and enthusiasm comes through when we play live.’

Is everything written down and, if so, who is the main composer?

Sam Comerford: ‘I compose all of the music for the group. We memorise all the parts for each instrument, so we can improvise the orchestration. There are lots of completely free sections, and some very involved written parts.’

Thunderblender © Pepa Niebla

What is your ambition with this trio?

Sam Comerford: ‘Musically, we will keep searching for new ways to construct and deconstruct the compositions. The musical direction can always become clearer. I also want to write more pieces for bass saxophone. It's an underused instrument, with no defined role in jazz music after 1930. It occupies an interesting place in the group, because of the timbre and the fact that it can be used as a melody or bass instrument. In terms of playing live, I want to play the music for as many people as possible! We will release an EP in June, and are working on an album to be released in 2018.’

Sam Comerford © Pepa Niebla

Can you give us a clue about the response of the audiences that attend your concerts?

Sam Comerford: ‘I can't really speak for the listeners, except to say that audience reactions have been very positive! I want to be surprised by the music every time. If it feels too safe or predictable, it's boring. So there's a certain excitement about what will happen, and I think that that energy and enthusiasm comes through when we play live.’

Did the offer from Michel Mast to perform at Ham Sessions come as a surprise?

Sam Comerford: ‘It was a very nice surprise to get the call from Michel. It will be my first time at the Ham Sessions, I've heard great things. It's great to be playing alongside some of my favourite groups in Belgium - I'm looking forward to hearing all the other gigs too!’

Thunderblender © Joris Lasure

What plans for the future does Thunderblender have?

Sam Comerford: ‘We have lots of plans for the future! In June we'll release a live EP on the Italian label Honolulu Records. It sounds pretty raw but very exciting. As well as playing at the Ham Sessions, we'll play at the Tremplin Avignon Concours on August 4th, and at Vrijstaat O on August 18th. We're currently working on Belgian dates in autumn and winter 2017, and an album and further concerts in Europe in 2018.’

Ham Sessions, June 4th – www.hamsessions.be - https://www.facebook.com/ThunderblenderBand/

Paul Godderis, May 25th, 2017
Please check out Pepa Niebla's photography website: www.thefoghouse.com/

Thunderblender © Pepa Niebla

In case you LIKE us, please click here:

Foto © Leentje Arnouts
cycle d’interviews réalisées
par Georges Tonla Briquet

our partners:

Clemens Communications

Markt 2 -


Silvère Mansis
(10.9.1944 - 22.4.2018)
foto © Dirck Brysse

Rik Bevernage
(19.4.1954 - 6.3.2018)
foto © Stefe Jiroflée

Philippe Schoonbrood
foto © Dominique Houcmant

Claude Loxhay
(18/02/1947 – 02/11/2023)
foto © Marie Gilon

Special thanks to our photographers:

Petra Beckers
Ron Beenen
Annie Boedt
Klaas Boelen
Henning Bolte

Serge Braem
Cedric Craps
Christian Deblanc
Philippe De Cleen
Paul De Cloedt
Cindy De Kuyper

Koen Deleu
Ferdinand Dupuis-Panther
Anne Fishburn
Federico Garcia
Robert Hansenne
Serge Heimlich
Dominique Houcmant
Stefe Jiroflée
Herman Klaassen
Philippe Klein

Jos L. Knaepen
Tom Leentjes
Hugo Lefèvre

Jacky Lepage
Olivier Lestoquoit
Eric Malfait
Simas Martinonis
Nina Contini Melis
Anne Panther
Jean-Jacques Pussiau
Arnold Reyngoudt
Jean Schoubs
Willy Schuyten

Frank Tafuri
Jean-Pierre Tillaert
Tom Vanbesien
Jef Vandebroek
Geert Vandepoele
Guy Van de Poel
Cees van de Ven
Donata van de Ven
Harry van Kesteren
Geert Vanoverschelde
Roger Vantilt
Patrick Van Vlerken
Marie-Anne Ver Eecke
Karine Vergauwen
Frank Verlinden

Jan Vernieuwe
Anders Vranken
Didier Wagner

and to our writers:

Mischa Andriessen
Robin Arends
Marleen Arnouts
Werner Barth
José Bedeur
Henning Bolte
Erik Carrette
Danny De Bock
Denis Desassis
Pierre Dulieu
Ferdinand Dupuis-Panther
Federico Garcia
Paul Godderis
Stephen Godsall
Jean-Pierre Goffin
Claudy Jalet
Bernard Lefèvre
Mathilde Löffler
Claude Loxhay
Ieva Pakalniškytė
Anne Panther
Etienne Payen
Jacques Prouvost
Yves « JB » Tassin
Herman te Loo
Eric Therer
Georges Tonla Briquet
Henri Vandenberghe
Iwein Van Malderen
Jan Van Stichel
Olivier Verhelst