Jeanfrançois Prins - jazz guitar composer arrangerJeanfrançois Prins

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Belgian Jazz guitarist Jeanfrançois Prins was born in Brussels and currently resides in Berlin. He has spent most of his adult life as a professional musician, arranger and producer; performing, recording and collaborating with many of today’s Jazz giants. He has been teaching private instrument lessons and classes in Berlin’s Music Universities, where he lead the Jazz Guitar Departments for over a decade, and gives workshops and master-classes internationally, communicating with enthusiasm his passion for this expansive music to the next generations of players.

Jeanfrançois has several current projects as a leader. His “Colliding Universes” is a 6tet which features 2 tenor saxophones, a fluegelhorn, bass and drums. "All Strings Attached" features his trio plus a classical string quartet, performing his original compositions and arrangements. "Blade Runner" features his arrangements and compositions in the thrilling atmosphere of a "film noir" of the 21st century, with cello and a groovy quartet with rhodes and electronics. "Rio de Jazzeiro" is his love declaration to Brazilian music. He also co-leads a 4tet with american saxophonist extraordinaire Andy Middleton, as well as a Belgian All Stars quintet "Tribute to Miles Davis" with trumpeter Richard Rousselet. His sixth CD as a leader "El Gaucho", featuring his trio with Joris Teepe on bass and Victor Lewis on drums, plus guest Rich Perry on tenor saxophone was released internationally on Challenge Records in 2012.

At age 18, Prins started playing music as a self-taught improviser.

At age 19, Prins was already leading his own professional band, performing his original tunes and arrangements. He graduated as a Sound Engineer from the world famous I.N.S.A.S. Film School in Brussels, Belgium. The same year, he was awarded the First Prize for Instrumental Performance at the Conservatoire Royal de Musique de Bruxelles, as well as the “Golden Sax”,  awarded by both the French- and Dutch- speaking Jazz journalists in Belgium. 

As a guitarist, Jeanfrançois Prins has performed as a leader and/or as a sideman with Toots Thielemans, Lee Konitz, Judy Niemack, Kenny Wheeler, Bud Shank, Lew Tabackin, Gary Bartz, Jaleel Shaw, Gary Foster, Gary Bartz, John Ruocco, Andy Middleton, Bill Evans, Steve Houben, Jacques Pelzer, Ulli Jünemann, Julian Priester, Jiggs Whigham, Randy Brecker, Gerard Presencer, Uli Beckerhoff, Tim Hagans, Till Brönner, Jim Mc Neely, Kirk Lightsey, Dan Haerle, Fred Hersch, Kenny Werner, Michel Herr, Walter Norris, Kirk Nurock, Mal Waldron, Bruce Barth, Stephen Scott, Kelvin Sholar, Dan Tepfer, Jasper Soffers, Sébastien Walnier, Alban Gerhardt, Mike Richmond, Eddie Gomez, Putter Smith, Jay Anderson, Scott Colley, Rufus Reid, Hein Van de Geyn, Ricardo del Fra, Ratzo Harris, Cameron Brown, Bart Denolf, Josh Ginsburg, Bruno Castellucci, Steve Davis, Adam Nussbaum, Joe La Barbera, Jerry Granelli, Billy Hart, Victor Lewis, John Betsch, Al "Tootie" Heath, Eric Vaughn, Gene Jackson, John Riley, Café, Luis Ribeiro, Pandit Sankha Chatterjee, Quincy Jones, Peter Herbolzheimer, Jay Clayton, Sheila Jordan, Darmon Meader, Theo Bleckmann, Janice Borla, Katalina Segura, Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay, Erwin Schrott, Beethova Obas, Lisa Werlinder...

Jeanfrançois Prins has released six CDs as a leader. The fourth one, "All Around Town" (TCB 99402), was conceived as his own musical photo album of New York City. He recorded it in trio with bassist Mike Richmond and drummer Adam Nussbaum, plus saxophonist Lee Konitz as a guest. The fifth, "Light" (GAM 918), was co-led by drummer Steve Davis, in trio with bassist Larry Kohut. "El Gaucho", his sixth CD feat. Joris Teepe, Victor Lewis and Rich Perry is now available on Challenge Records!!

He is also featured as a soloist and accompanist on a large number of recordings.

Jeanfrançois Prins has been featured on TV in Belgium, France, Holland, Estonia, and on the satellite channel Muzzik, both in interviews and performing. In 1994, he was an actor and musician in the Belgian movie "Just Friends", which won several prizes and was nominated for an Oscar in the United States as "Best Foreign Film". In early 1999, the Belgian French-speaking national television (RTBF) produced a special documentary feature about his international career, both as a musician and an educator. It was also aired on the worldwide French language channel TV5 in the summer of 1999.

Several musicians have played Jeanfrançois Prins’ compositions :
"New York Stories" was recorded by his own quintet, Toots Thielemans, Judy Niemack, Kenny Werner, Michel Herr & Jack Van Poll, The Terrassa Big Band (
arranged by German top arranger Peter Herbolzheimer) , the WDR Big Band (arranged by Grammy-Award winner Jim Mc Neely), Swedish movie star Lisa Werlinder (also in a Swedish lyric version "New York"), and has been used for several years as the title song of the Radio Judaïca Jazz Program in Belgium. It was also used in a TV commercial for the Belgian Postal Service, which was aired on four different channels in Belgium for six months. It was also arranged for big band by Grammy-winner arranger Jim McNeely, and by German top arranger Peter Herbolzheimer.
"Fifth Ave." was recorded and performed by his trio, by Lee Konitz, Stéphane Mercier, and by vocalist Judy Niemack (under the lyric version "Keepers of the Masterplan", then featured in Belgian TV game show "Génies en Herbe", which was aired five times world-wide on the international TV5 channel.
"Cat’s Eyes" was recorded and performed by his own quintet, by singer Mary Kay, then featured in Belgian TV game show "Génies en Herbe", which was aired five times world-wide on the international TV5 channel.
"Central Park" was recorded and performed by his trio, vocalist Judy Niemack (under the lyric title "Music Calls Me",
Swedish movie star Lisa Werlinder (in a Swedish lyric version "Sommar").
"What" was recorded and performed by his own quartet, trumpeter Richard Rousselet’s quintet, and by Lee Konitz.

In the beginning of the year 2000, he was hired, together with Judy Niemack, to compose and perform all the original music for a documentary-film series to be aired on the Discovery Channel.

Always very involved in the groups that he decides to play with, Jeanfrançois Prins has written arrangements and originals for them (Richard Rousselet, Lee Konitz, Mary Kay, Judy Niemack, Toots Thielemans, ...).

Being a sound engineer and knowledgeable about the record industry, Jeanfrançois Prins has always had a producer’s approach to his projects. He produced and arranged Mary Kay’s CD, "Make Someone Happy", featuring Toots Thielemans.
He co-produced three CDs for Judy Niemack, Richard Rousselet’s CD “Waitin’ For You”, and Sören Fischer’s CD “Don’t Change Your Hair For Me”. He produced and arranged Judy Niemack’s recording “About Time” (SONY JAZZ), her recent CDs “Blue Nights” and “In the Sundance” (BLUJAZZ). His other most recent productions include “What’s Goin’ On?” by the Terrassa Big Band, and virtuoso pianist Walter Norris’ last project “Elements ‘n Motion” (SUNBURST), and Ulli Jünemann's latest release "Boo Hoo". He is also consulted by colleagues on questions of sequencing, editing and choice of "takes".

Discography as a leader

- Jeanfrançois PRINS 5tet "N.Y. Stories"
GAM Jam 911

- Jeanfrançois PRINS - Judy NIEMACK "Beauty and the Prince" GAM 916

- Lee KONITZ & Jeanfrançois PRINS Trio "Live" GAM 915

- Jeanfrançois PRINS "All Around Town" TCB 99402

- Jeanfrançois PRINS "Light GAM 918

- Jeanfrançois PRINS "El Gaucho" Challenge CR 73337

Selected discography as a sideman

- Mary KAY "Make Someone Happy" feat. Toots THIELEMANS
GAM Jam 912

- Judy NIEMACK "Straight Up" FREELANCE FRL CD 018

- Richard ROUSSELET 5tet "Waitin' for You" GAM 913

- Lee KONITZ "Rhapsody" vol. 1 Paddle Wheel Records KICJ 174
"Rhapsody" vol. 2
Paddle Wheel Records KICJ 210

- Michel HERR "Just Friends" soundtrack AMC 50047

- Shigeko SUZUKI "Première" NOVUS BVCP-870 BMG JAPAN

- Judy NIEMACK "...Night and the Music..." FREELANCE FRL CD 026

- Sören FISCHER "Don’t Change Your Hair For Me" GLM EC 513-2

- R.I.A.S. Big Band + Clark Terry "Duke Ellington Project" MONS MR 874-306

- Judy Niemack "About Time" feat. Eddie Gomez, Lee Konitz SONY JAZZ 509824-2

- Terrassa Big Band "What Goin' On"

- Meike Goosmann Quintet "Portraits" NRW

- Darmon Meader "And So Am I"

- BERLIN JAZZ ORCHESTRA “You’re Everything”

- Judy NIEMACK “Blue Nights” BLUJAZZ 3353

- Putter Smith  “Desert Passes” (Coming soon!)

- Judy NIEMACK “In the Sundance” BLUJAZZ 3374

- Lisa Werlinder  “U R the 1”

- Ernst Ludwig Petrowski  “Ornette, etc...”

- Ulli Jünemann  “Boo Hoo”

As an educator, Jeanfrançois Prins had an early start. Although he started playing music fairly late, he had a wide knowledge of the jazz tradition and the history of music in general because of being brought up in his parents’ record store, which specialised in Jazz and Classical music.

As a child, he spent much of his free time listening to records and singing along with them, learning improvised solos by heart. He also started to play them for his friends, and even for adults, quizzing them in “blindfold tests”. By the time he reached adolescence, these listening sessions had become a sort of institution, and musicians and non-musicians alike attended them regularly.

When Jeanfrançois began playing guitar, at age 17, many musicians knew him already and they would often drop by and hang out in the back room of the record store, giving him musical advice. There Prins started a Saturday afternoon jam session which quickly became a weekly workshop. Some veterans like Hein van de Geyn, Philip Catherine, and Jean-Louis Rassinfosse were there, but also some new and inexperienced musicians. They worked on new tunes, chord progressions and interplay each week. For the young musicians, the sessions started earlier, just with Jeanfrançois, who taught them how to improvise, phrase with Jazz time feeling, develop a personal tone, listen to the others and react. He wasn’t only teaching how to play the guitar, but also taught improvisation for the saxophone, flute, piano, drums, trumpet, ...

Prins’ method was always very interactive, and organic. “If you don’t hear something, don’t play it. Listen to many musicians playing the same compositions and compare. Teach yourself to hear the notes which, at first, sound foreign to you. Once you understand them in a natural, physical way, then you can incorporate them into your own vocabulary”.

For several years, he had regular private students at home, both younger and older than him.

In the Winter of 1995, Jeanfrançois Prins was invited by the Jazz Faculty of the H.D.K. Berlin to audition as a guitar teacher. He was then hired as the new Jazz guitar teacher of the H.D.K.. There, he soon began teaching classes (Jazz History Class, Listening & Analysis, Transcription, ...) and ensembles (Ellington, Monk, Guitar Ensemble, ...). In all of these classes, some of which were his own creations, he brought a multimedia dimension, showing videos, playing CDs, and interacting directly with the students. Starting in the Summer semester of 1998, he has had a Guest Professorship at the U.D.K for two years.

In the meantime, he was asked to audition as a guitar teacher at the HfM Hanns Eisler in Berlin, was accepted, and has been teaching Methodik/Lehrpraxis classes, private guitar lessons and created a Lennie Tristano ensemble there.

In 1999, he became the leader of the guitar section in the Hanns Eisler’s Jazz Department. In 2006, both of Berlin's Jazz Departments (UdK and Hanns Eisler) merged into the brand-new JIB (Jazz Institute Berlin).

In 2000, he joined the faculty of Peter Herbolzheimer's BuJazzO (Bundes Jazz Orchester), and kept working with him in his European jazz Academy and Masterclass workshops.

In 2009, he joined the faculty of the JAZZINTY International workshop and Festival in Novo Mesto, Slovenia, along with Andy Middleton and Randy Brecker, and has been part of the yearly festival/workshop four years in a row.

Jeanfrançois Prins considers teaching as a natural thing to do for a musician. He wants to share his knowledge and simultaneously learn from his students. That is the way that Jazz has evolved and will continue its evolution from one generation to the next.

Jeanfrançois Prins’ music is poetic and passionate. One can hear him in a large variety of styles, from solo to big-band with orchestra. He enjoys risk-taking improvisation and organic interaction. His lyrical fusion of romance and hard-swinging guitar is influenced by his encounters with World Music, Latin Jazz, French Chanson, Contemporary Classical music, Avant-Guarde and Pop.

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