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Jake Walker was founded in 2016 by pianist Wouter Van den Broeck and saxophonist Alec Lagrange. At the time they were studying at the conservatory in Ghent and sensed a lack of traditional jazz in their curriculum. Inspired by a Wynton Marsalis concert they decided to dig deeper in the history of the music. They gathered a seven-member ensemble, drawing friends and acquaintances from the vibrant Ghent music scene, and marked their inaugural performance at the Missy Sippy. Their repertoire was steeped in the New Orleans- style, featuring classics like ‘Hotter than that’, ‘The Sheik of Araby’, ‘Cornet Chop Suey’ in addition to original compositions in that vein. They began performing at pubs and small festivals and gained a reputation as a dynamic and youthful ensemble. In 2017 they played their first big dance festival; the Gentse Hoppers Exchange. 



Alec left the band in 2018 to focus on other involvements. Clarinetist Ruben assumed logistical responsibilities, and Wouter took the role of primary musical leader. Following a discussion with dancer Sep Vermeersch, Wouter recognized the potential to enhance the quality of their music through more tightly-knit arrangements. He realized that arranged swing pieces ignited more enthusiasm on the dancefloor and were a better fit for the musicians' individual styles. Consequently, the repertoire gradually evolved to include adaptations of big band classics like ‘Don’t Be That Way,’ ‘Shiny Stockings,’ and ‘Jumping at the Woodside.’ In 2019, the band embarked on a tour in the UK, further refining their new repertoire. After undergoing some personnel changes, the new chapter was complete. 



As the band’s reputation continued to grow, an international career was on the horizon. However, the COVID-crisis temporarily halted their upward trajectory. The band responded proactively, utilizing the time to explore new artistic avenues. They realized an ambitious project featuring four additional horns, performing music written and arranged by Wouter and new trombone player Timothé Le Maire. In the same period, they also played themed concerts around the music of Duke Ellington and Bud Powell. 



Eventually, with the resumption of big festivals, the band's long-awaited international journey commenced. Following a well-received performance at the Brussels Lindy Exchange in 2022, Jake Walker began touring in France, Germany, the Netherlands,… Despite their international endeavors, they maintain a strong presence in the Ghent scene, fostering a durable partnership with local organizers Upside Down and Crazy Legs. Their repertoire now boasts over 100 arrangements, ranging from big band adaptations of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Benny Goodman to small band interpretations of John Kirby, Rex Stewart, and Johnny Hodges. Additionally, the band continually expands their repertoire through biannual concerts at the Preacher. Jake Walker stands out from other swing bands for the diverse musical personalities it encompasses.

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