Category Archives: Personal Notes

THE FOUNDING OF THRANG

In early spring 2011 I had a one hour conversation with bass player Eugene, who I had not seen or spoken for more than 25 years. I called him because I saw his ad on a website for musicians, which said that he was looking to form a power trio. While talking, however, and me coming from a totally different background of jazz and improvisational music, we agreed that we had to explore the options and the possibilities to create our own music. And so the adventure started a few weeks later when Eugene introduced Barend, a guitarist who also had a broad musical interest.

Today, three years underway now, we are still developing our own music, which has resulted in some very interesting pieces. Unfortunately, we have not been performing a lot, as today many musicians are struggling with the breakdown of cultural life and values. Below there’s a recording of a rehearsal with a piece called “Global Radiance”.

You can check our website  http://www.thrang.nl/ for more information and other pieces.

 

A LONG CHERISHED WISH FULFILLED

It is only a few years ago now that I met trumpet player Harm again, after at least 25 years of no contact whatsoever. As it appears, it was no coincidence that exactly that week he had moved back to his place of birth, near to my hometown. After my colleague had cancelled the duo-performance, Harm and I had our first musical encounter before an audience of students and parents. The youtube version you can watch here was shot, however, on a ‘open-podium’ festivity I had organized for my students.

As you can see the bond between us is one of warm companionship, trust, openness and unconditional acceptance of one another.  In this relaxed atmosphere Harm plays the most amazing things, and I am just picking up on an old love affair, as the double bass once was. The big difference  now for me, is that I do not have to accomplish anything anymore, which gives me all the freedom to express my love for the bass and jazz music.

Toen twee jaar geleden een collega docent en zangeres het geplande optreden op de school waar ik lesgeef moest afzeggen, wilde ik toch nog iets proberen te regelen zodat het door kon gaan. Ik herinnerde me toen dat ik een al heel lang het idee koesterde om een duo te vormen met een trompetist. Om samen op een intieme wijze, heel open en easy jazzstandards te spelen, en daar een eigen draai aangeven. Dus ging ik op zoek en kwam tot mijn geluk Harm op het spoor, waar ik 25 jaar geleden als drummer nog mee gespeeld had, echter nooit met de contrabas. Het leek geen toeval, dat hij juist die week terug was verhuisd naar zijn geboortedorp, in de buurt van mijn stad. Donderdag kreeg ik pas een mail ter bevestiging en vrijdagavond hadden wij onze eerste muzikale ontmoeting op het podium voor ouders en leerlingen.

Het is direct te zien welk een verbondenheid we hebben, een warme vriendschap, een vertrouwen, openheid en een onvoorwaardelijke acceptatie van elkaar. In deze relaxte sfeer spelt Harm de meest fantastische dingen, terwijl ik zelf pas sinds enige jaren weer serieus contrabas ben gaan spelen, na mijn conservatoriumstudie in 1986 te hebben afgebroken,  Het grote verschil voor mij nu met toen, ik was amper 20 jaar, is dat ik niets meer hoef te bereiken, en daarom rechtstreeks mijn liefde voor de contrabas en jazzmuziek tot uitdrukking kan brengen.

 

MUSIC THAT DEFIES IMAGINATION

Close to Mandeville

A short history on the birth of a musical brotherhood

Today, January 12 2014, this unique band still exists. It is because of the spiritual foundation established back in 2005 that this musical brotherhood is still evolving and developing new musical ideas as well as musical skills and knowledge. This short anecdote, written years ago, gives an insight in the crucial developments at the very beginning. Developments and actions which had to take place in order to create the conditions for this ever evolving musical and spiritual brotherhood. Continue reading MUSIC THAT DEFIES IMAGINATION

CLOSE TO MANDEVILLE

Muziek die elke verbeelding tart

Korte historie van een band

Als ik dit schrijf  is het 12 januari 2014, wat betekent dat muziektrio Close to Mandeville al zo’n negen jaar bestaat. Het onderstaande is een anekdotisch verslag van het ontstaan van de band. Het is interessant om te zien dat de verandering die plaats moest hebben wilde er een bepaalde ontwikkeling in gang gezet kunnen worden, een basis gelegd heeft die tot op vandaag nog altijd de voorwaarden schept voor een voortdurende ontwikkeling.  Er is veel gebeurd, vele diepgaande confrontaties, maar juist dat geeft deze band een bezieling en een vrijheid waarin ieder individueel bandlid zichzelf volledig en onvoorwaardelijk kan ontplooien. Continue reading CLOSE TO MANDEVILLE

WHY I QUITTED CONSERVATORY

A personal story always shows specific experiences, which in retrospect do not seem to be just coincidence. Such was my encounter with Dutch philosopher and teacher at the university Ruud Welten in 2007, who also appeared to be, like I was, one of the double bass students at the Rotterdam Conservatory in the early 1980s. Trying to figure out what my thesis could be about in order to graduate from university, Ruud aksed me, ‘why not develop a jazz philosophy?’ And so I did. The following short text is a preface to this thesis, which after my graduation has actually developed into a more complex and comprehensive study.  To this day, however, I have never really finished it, but every now and then I pick it up to rework the research into articles. There are a few on this website.

It is not uncommon, at least in the Netherlands, that students at conservatories sometimes get frustrated and lose touch with their initial love for music.[1] Back in the 1980s, while studying double bass at the Rotterdam Conservatory, I came to be one of them. As a young musician, barely eighteen, it was a tumultuous time that I couldn’t quite cope with. So I dropped out of conservatory, sold my bass, and returned to my hometown to start a new life without music – fully convinced that I was never going to be a musician again.

At that time I did not foresee that I would be confronted with, and so it still seems today, get hooked up with a quest for inner freedom. Freedom has always been associated with jazz music, but the discussions that I used to have with my piano teacher on what freedom was or could be, made it clear that I was looking for something totally different. Something that I wasn’t able to share with other students either. Slowly I started drifting away from what had touched me most profoundly, subsequently concealing again my young creative soul that was just opening up, involved in expressing and developing itself.

Only later I came to understand that by radically quitting music, my inner urge for freedom, something that could have become conscious through music, was condemned to become a total abstraction: a spiritual striving away from the world, which left me totally abandoned with no social future perspective whatsoever. It took me about twenty years to realize and overcome this ‘dualism’, and to find my way back to the social world of human interactions and improvised music. This thesis is the result of that individual quest that at the same time has deepened my understanding of jazz music. Being a musician myself, music has always guided my musical and personal development, and was therefore, in addition to my academic education on philosophy and theology, of utmost importance to enable me to write down the ideas that will be developed here.


[1] Marcel Cobussen’s Thresholds Rethinking Spirituality Through Music: p.18 “When becoming a professionally trained musician led me to the experience that somewhere in that process my love for music had severely decreased,…” Some friends of  mine too gave up conservatory.