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BL!NDMAN [sax]

BL!NDMAN [sax] was founded in 1988 by saxophonist and composer Eric Sleichim. For years, this saxophone quartet was the beating heart of BL!NDMAN. With open ears and a rebellious skill, Sleichim explored the boundaries of how a saxophone could sound. Non-conventional techniques such as the use of screeching springs, thuds, smacks and sounds of valves alternate with the instrument’s tonal qualities. Named after Marcel Duchamp’s eponymous magazine The Blind Man, Sleichim guides audiences through unprecedented and challenging worlds of sound. From 2006, BL!NDMAN [sax] begins to share 20 years of stage experience with other quartets BL!NDMAN [drums], BL!NDMAN [strings] and BL!NDMAN [hybrid]. It opens up a cross-pollination between two generations and four quartets.

BL!NDMAN [sax] breathes adventure by collaborating with various art disciplines. Their multidisciplinary approach gained international acclaim. From the start, the quartet received commissions from the world of theatre and dance. They worked together with Jan Fabre, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Heiner Goebbels and Ivo van Hove. Sleichim’s love of images and film led to the development of many multimedia performances commissioned by various organisers. For instance, silent films by Buster Keaton and Teinosuke Kinugasa were adapted with live music and provided with an original soundtrack for saxophone. Opera, musical theatre, art videos and other performances have also been accompanied by the quartet with an innovative touch over the years.

In his search for untapped potential for saxophone, Eric Sleichim has since 1999 also focused on early music. Often in collaboration with specialised ensembles such as Collegium Vocale Gent or the Huelgas Ensemble, BL!NDMAN [sax] picks out music by the old grandmasters and rediscovers forgotten sound magicians. The groundbreaking arrangement of J. S. Bach’s four chorale partitas became an instant success and tours the world. An extensive repertoire of early music emerges over the years, transformed for a contemporary saxophone quartet. Numerous projects around the works of Gesualdo & Buxtehude (Stylus Fantasticus), Orlando di Lasso (Chromatic Variations), Schütz (UTOPIA: 47), Handel (WATER & FIRE / Handel Revisited ) and Petrus Alamire (MORGEN!) with one of the highlights being the release of the album 32 Foot / the Organ of Bach which was awarded the Klara for best CD production on the 25th anniversary of BL!NDMAN [sax]. The dialogue between old and new music also takes centre stage with BL!NDMAN [sax]. The quartet brings ancient masters of sound into conversation with composers such as Jonathan Harvey, John Cage or Helmut Oehring. In Multiple Voice, even polyphonic works from the 12th to 16th centuries are given a place alongside contemporary compositions.

More recently, BL!NDMAN [sax] is also exploring new paths by focusing on arrangements of current musical icons. BL!NDMAN plays MOONDOG is a dazzling tribute to a man who sparked a wonderful dialogue between jazz, classical, pop and ethnic music. Together with the other quartets in the BL!NDMAN collective, ICONS, the American Minimalists gives a sparkling ode to the triumvirate of minimal music: Steve Reich, Terry Riley and Philip Glass.

In BL!NDMAN’s Parliament of Angels initiative (2023-2027), the saxophone quartet seeks to build bridges with a new generation of artists through collaborations and residencies around the world. With open ears and a curious mind, the future brings unprecedented cross-pollinations and BL!NDMAN [sax] is still sailing a bold artistic course full of experimentation and musical dialogue more than 35 years after its founding.

Pieter Pellens: soprano saxophone
Hendrik Pellens: alto and soprano saxophone
Piet Rebel: tenor saxophone
Sebastiaan Cooman: baritone saxophone
Eric Sleichim: tubax and electronics