BRUSSELS — Belgian jazz guitarist and composer Pierre Van Dormael died on Wednesday in Brussels. He was 56.
Van Dormael provided scores for all the feature films directed by younger brother Jaco, from “Toto the Hero” and “The Eighth Day” to the recently completed “Mr Nobody.” This last soundtrack was finished after Pierre was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
He was born in Brussels in 1952, but raised in Germany, where he learned violin and guitar at school.
Back in Belgium, he was influenced by American folk music, but it was attending a concert by the Keith Jarrett Trio that inspired him to enroll at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he studied composition and arrangement.
After working as a session guitarist and singer, he returned to Belgium to study composition at the Liege Conservatoire and to teach.
In the 1980s, he became an influential figure in Belgian jazz, forming the Nasa Na band with the future members of Aka Moon.
He was also part of the 1986 James Baldwin Project, providing music for readings of poetry by the U.S. author.
In the 1990s, he traveled to Senegal to teach music, an experience that marked his later output. Collaborations followed with kora player Soriba Kouate and, his final disc, with Senegalese guitarist and former student Herve Samb.
Van Dormael also published this year a book on music theory, “Four Principles to Understand Music.”
In 2007, he received Belgium’s top jazz award, the Django d’Or.