Kris Defoort


Kris Defoort (1959) studied recorder and early music at the Antwerp Conservatoire and jazz piano, composition and free improvisation at the Liège Conservatoire. Between 1987 and 1990 Kris Defoort lived in New York.

He followed master-classes with Fred Hersh, David Berger and Paul Bley, but his main activity was playing as a jazz pianist. He performed with the Lionel Hampton Big Band (guest Dizzy Gillespie), Jack DeJohnette, Adam Nussbaum, Reggie Workman, Mike Formanek, Barry Altschul, Vince Herring, Judy Niemack, Tito Puento, Lee Konitz, Hannibal Peterson and many others.

After his return to Belgium he continued on his musical odyssey, as a composer, pianist and improviser, and as leader of the sextet KD's Basement Party, his trio KD's Decade, Octurn, Dreamtime and more recently Sound Plaza (with Mark Turner, Jim Black and Nicolas Thys). Lots of his projects have resulted in CDs. Kris Defoort has also worked with performers and ensembles in the contemporary jazz scene (Jim Black, Mark Turner, AKA Moon, Vegetable Beauty, Garrett List, Paul Rodgers, Han Benninck etc.).

Since 1998 Kris Defoort has been a resident composer at LOD. Together with Fatou Traoré he created the dance piece Passages (2001), which was performed at several leading European festivals (Festival d’Avignon, Salzburg, Charleroi Danse, etc.).

At the end of 2001 he composed the opera The Woman Who Walked into Doors, based on Roddy Doyle’s book of the same name. This opera, directed by Guy Cassiers, toured impressively in Europe and was received with great enthusiasm by both press and public. In 2002 Kris Defoort created Conversations with the Past and in the same year he presented Sound Plaza, a jazz CD with saxophonist Mark Turner, bass player Nic Thys and drummer Jim Black. In 2003 he created his String Quartet n°1, and also ConVerSations/ConSerVations, a project based on Renaissance music. Together with the soprano Claron McFadden, Dreamtime and Quatuor Danel, Kris Defoort once again sought a synthesis between old and new, classical and jazz.

While an artist in residence at the BOZAR Arts Centre in the 2006-2007 season, he displayed every aspect of his musicianship: as an improvising pianist and a composer. Kris Defoort was also commissioned by the 2007 Queen Elizabeth Competition to write the compulsory contest piece for solo piano: Dedicatio 6; Treasure of Emotions (to Keith Jarrett). On the 8th of May 2009 the world premiere of his second opera House of the Sleeping Beauties (produced by LOD, Toneelhuis & La Monnaie), directed by Guy Cassiers, took place at La Monnaie in Brussels. In 2010 Kris Defoort created his next LOD project, The Brodsky Concerts, a piece based on the writings of Joseph Brodsky, in which he appeared on stage together with the actor Dirk Roofthooft. 2012 saw the premiere of An Old Monk (LOD), the result of a long-postponed collaboration by Defoort and Josse De Pauw. The music Defoort composed was inspired by the work of Thelonious Monk. In 2017 Josse De Pauw works on his trilogy. For the part De Mensheid, Defoort composed the music.

In october 2019, a concert called landscape, a new production together with Josse De Pauw and the Kris Defoort Trio, will premiere in Ghent.