Bart Plugers is a Belgian up-and-coming singer and composer with a strong sense for jazz and pop music.
His love for music originated at the young age of seven, where he picked up the classical guitar and never put it down ever since. He later studied other instruments such as the piano, as well as the electric guitar. The overwhelming joy for singing started flourishing while studying at the art high schools PIKOH and Musart, playing in bands and writing songs in the meantime. Year by year, the importance of music grew until there was no more point in denying it.
At the young age of eighteen, he gets accepted into the vocal class of the jazz department of the Royal Conservatory of Brussels. Under the inspiring mentorship of the iconic vocalist and composer David Linx, Bart has grown into a versatile performer and composer with a distinct style and dynamic musical personality. His love for improvised and minimalistic music has taken him to the Haute École de Musique de Lausanne (Switzerland), to study under greats such as Susanne Abbuehl and Emil Spanyi for a year. In 2020, he obtains his master’s degree in jazz vocals with distinction after studying with David Linx, Diederik Wissels, Stéphane Galland and many more.
Bart has recently graduated with the highest distinction from the renowned Hochschule der Künste in Bern . Thereby, he was inspired by some of the best musicians in the world, such as Andreas Schaerer, Jim Black, Django Bates, Ralph Alessi, Tom Arthurs, Colin Vallon and many others.
As a composer, Bart has been actively writing and arranging music for his own projects as well as for other musicians. He has written music for small and large ensembles with different shapes and forms, with performances in various exciting settings. He is actively engaged as a songwriter for different singer-songwriters and theatre projects. A recent highlight includes the creation of songs for the ‘Concours Européen de la chanson philosophique’, on the road touring Europe from 2019-2021.
As a teacher, Bart has been sharing his enthusiasm for education and music pedagogy since 2016. He has taught vocal technique, interpretation and songwriting to students and professionals of all levels and ages. He has experienced the joy of choir leading, as well as the organisation of masterclasses and concerts. Between 2016-2017, he was active in the music center MyUSIC and later taught the jazz-pop-rock singing department of the Genkse Academie voor Kunst from 2019-2020. Bart currently gives private singing lessons in Bern.
As a performer, Bart has been seen on stage in varying settings, from solo to bigband. His musical versatility has manifested itself throughout different musical genres, including classical, indie and electronic music. He has received masterclasses from Norma Winstone, Leïla Martial, Fay Claassen, Kurt Elling, etc. He has performed alongside established artists such as Sheila Jordan, Marilyn Mazur, Wolfert Brederode, Øyvind Hegg-Lunde, Isabelle Olivier, Matthieu Michel, David Linx, Susanne Abbuehl, Fabrice Moreau and others. As a tenor for the Cinematic Art Choir, Bart has toured the biggest European venues with film music giants James Newton Howard (2017) & Hans Zimmer (2016-2017). Following an invitation from the Swiss embassy, Bart performed alongside guitarist Eliott Knuets before His Majesty King Filip and Her Majesty Queen Mathilde of Belgium and His Excellency the President of the Swiss Confederation Ignazio Cassis at Bozar (Brussels) during the official state visit on November 25th, 2022.
Bart Plugers: Blossom and Blasphemy
Bart Plugers: vocals
Leo Fumagalli: soprano & tenor saxophone
Lenni Torgue: vibraphone
Mirko Maio: piano
Jules Martinet: double bass
Clément Grin: drums
... The Belgian singer Bart Plugers dares to make a poetic debut. The album "Blossom And Blasphemy" reaches with musical individual clarity thereby beyond the standard of a business card... Ralf Dombrowski, Jazzthing
... From almost sacred sounds to melodically laid out tracks to free passages, with words or without, he and his band "Blossom and Blasphemy", which gives the album its title, show that vocal jazz is absolutely not bound to the Great American Songbook. G. Kösters, NaDann
Male singing is probably the only branch of jazz where the men are in the minority. However, that did not deter the 24-year-old Belgian Bart Plugers was from doing just that. "I've always sung," he says, "but I've had lessons since I was twelve.” Early influences on the teenager were Chet Baker and Kurt Elling, and European greats such as Theo Bleckmann and Sidsel Endresen were added later. He studied in Brussels under David Linx at the age of 18 and later moved to Lausanne to take lessons from Susanne Abbuehl.
“The transition to jazz felt quite natural to me,” Plugers said. "There aren't that many male singers in jazz, which is why people often expect a charming entertainer, which certainly creates its own problems. However, my experiences are rather positive, because the audience is simply curious about what I am actually doing."
His band Blossom & Blasphemy was formed in Lausanne, in which the saxophonist Leo Fumagalli, the pianist Mirko Maio, the vibraphonist Lenni Torgue as well as Jules Martinet and Clément Grin on bass and drums are his partners.
"I wanted to form a band that could bring the songs in my head to life," Plugers stated. "It was important for us to understand each other both musically and humanly. I wanted a slightly larger lineup with these instruments, because they seemed to correspond well with my music. But there is also a lively intellectual exchange outside of music between us."
The seven songs of the debut album, with the exception of “Lucid”, composed by Jules Martinet, all come from the pen of Plugers and take the audience into a unique world of sound, which is characterized by lyrical intimacy, but also by gripping intensity.
“I composed with the imagination of each individual musician in mind,” Plugers said, “and was able to arrange it very precisely later on.”
Plugers, who can sing with words as well as without them, has chosen a sensual band name, which at the same time also gives his album the title. 'Blossom & Blasphemy‘ was the first song I wrote for this band,” he stated very tersely. “I imagined in my head a painting that was strongly inspired by the old Flemish masters of the 17th and 18th centuries. In this picture, all of life takes place and I try to describe that in the song. Of course, the name lives on the strong contrast between the two terms, the strong and the light, and they just sound good.”
The impressionistic color of the band never distracts from the lyrics of their singer, but often it leads again and again on new paths in a song, leaves room for solos and changes rhythm and harmonies. "On the one hand, my lyrics should be very precise and accurate," as a goal that Plugers set, "but on the other hand, they should also leave room for the imagination of the listener."
In songs such as "She Wakes the Sun" or "I Promise You the Sea", gripping unisono passages with piano or vibraphone alternate with chamber-jazz soundscapes that are subtly interspersed with electronic elements. At the end of the album, with "Weberhard", Plugers and his band pay homage to a grandmaster of European jazz, using soft tones at the beginning to create a powerful vision, in which all musicians merge into an unparalleled unity.
“'Weberhard is of course my personal tribute to Eberhard Weber, who was an important influence on me,” Plugers explained. "The song works strongly with ostinati and modal figures. The spoken-word passage, however, is influenced by Sylvia Plath, whose lyrics are very poetic, but she also uses words that astonish you with their precision."
- Bart Plugers, Blossom and Blasphemy, DoubleMoon Records 2022, Debut
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