Kris Defoort was born in 1959. He studied recorder and early music at the Antwerp Conservatory (Barthold Kuijken, Koen Dieltiens, Jos Van Immerseel, Balderick Deerenberg) and jazzpiano, composition and free improvisation at the Liège Conservatory (Dennis Luxion, Frederic Rzewsky, Garrett List, Philippe Boesmans).
Between 1987 & 1990
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 as a jazz pianist. He performed with the Lionel Hampton Big Band (guest Dizzy Gillespie), Jack de Johnette, Adam Nussbaum, Reggie Workman, Mike Formanek, Barry Altschul, Vince Herring, Judy Niemack, Tito Puento, Lee Konitz, Hannibal Peterson, and many others.
Between 1991 & 1997
After his return to Belgium he continued on his musical odyssey, as a composer, pianist and improvisor, and leader of the sextet KD's Basement Party, his trio KD's Decade, Octurn, Dreamtime and Sound Plaza (with Mark Turner, Nicolas Thys and Jim Black). Thanks to the support of the arts centre De Werf (Bruges), all of this projects were issued on cd.
Kris Defoort 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,…)
Since 1998 Kris Defoort is a resident composer at LOD (Ghent), a production house for contemporary music theatre. 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,...)
Kris Defoort was commissioned by LOD, Ro theater, deSingel, La Monnaie and others, to compose his first opera The Woman Who Walked into Doors, based on Roddy Doyle’s book of the same name. This ‘opera for actress, soprano and video screen’, directed by Guy Cassiers, was shown about 50 times all over Europe (Duisburg, Ruhrtriennale, Paris, Strassbourg, Brussels, Dublin, Zürich, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Antwerp,…) and was received with great enthusiasm by both press and public.
In 2002 Kris Defoort created Conversations with the Past, a work for wind instruments, piano, harp, double bass and percussion, commissioned by the Filharmonie (Antwerp). 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 together with ConVerSations/ConSerVations, a project based on Renaissance music. Together with soprano Claron McFadden, Dreamtime and Quatuor Danel, Kris Defoort sought once again a synthesis between old and new, classical and jazz.
Between 2004 and 2007
In 2004 Kris Defoort received the Music Award of the Flemish Community. As an artist in residence at the arts centre BOZAR in the 2006-2007 season, every aspect of his musicianship has been shown: as an improvising jazz pianist and as a composer. For example, Jan Michiels created his piano cycle Dedicatio (nine musical letters) in December 2006. Kris Defoort also has been commissioned by the 2007 Queen Elizabeth Competition to write the compulsory contest piece for solo piano: Dedicatio 6; Treasure of Emotions (to Keith Jarrett).
Kris Deoort composes his second opera House of the Sleeping Beauties (production LOD, Toneelhuis, la Monnaie,…). On the 8th of May 2009 the world premiere of this ‘Opera in three Nights’, directed by Guy Cassiers, took place at La Monnaie Brussels. This opera as well toured successfully across Europa.
In 2010 Kris Defoort worked on The Brodsky Concerts, a piece based on the writings by Joseph Brodsky, in which he was on stage together with the actor Dirk Roofthooft. In 2010 Kris also launched his new jazz trio, with Nicolas Thys (electric bass) and Lander Gyselinck (drums). In February 2012 Kris Defoort simultaneously released three albums at the W.E.R.F. label: Kris Defoort trio Live in Bruges, Kris Defoort solo piano Live in Tokyo, and New Sound Plaza, a new version of his quartet with Mark Turner, Nicolas Thys and Jim Black.
Kris Defoort teaches composition, arrangement and free improvisation at the Brussels Royal Music Conservatory.