This month my twenty-sixth album will come out. It will comprise the recordings of a solo concert I did in Budapest last December. The album is named after the Hungarian song Szomorú Vasárnap which was made famous around the world by several American artists like Artie Shaw and, most notably Billie Holiday. Younger versions have been recorded by Björk, Sinead O'Connor and Heather Nova. The list is quite extensive; my friend Dirk-Peter Kölsch is holding a vast collection, which is still growing. I wonder if he has already seen Angelina Jordan's version. Well, anyway, now it's my time to add one to the list. The cover of the new album is the picture in this blog. Tamás Bognár, of the renowned Hungarian label BMC, sent it to me last Friday to confirm. I think it's a great cover, precisely imaging the title of the album.
There were two reasons to play this song during that specific concert.
Obviously, it was included because the song is Hungarian originally. It is one of many Hungarian songs that made it to the jazz charts worldwide. Autumn Leaves by Miles Davis or Edith Piaf? Sorry guys, it's simply Hulló Levelek. Don't underestimate Hungarian composers!
There was another, more personal, reason to play this particular song on that evening. The very night of the concert, students of the ArtEZ Conservatory organized a concert in remembrance of their friend and our student Robin Cornelissen who had died exactly two years earlier. Because of my solo concert in Budapest it was not possible for me to attend and in a way I could still be connected to the evening in Arnhem by playing the song I played also two years earlier with trumpet player Pieter van Engelen, at Robin's funeral.
I think I'm basically a pretty phlegmatic person, not easily disturbed by emotional matters and able to keep my distance when I feel it's necessary, preserving emotional outbursts for moments that really count. It is one of the many reasons Pieter Douma and I are collaborating so fruitfully. He is just the opposite, which is trying at times for both of us, but at the end of the day everything balances out. Normally Pieter compensates for my nature and I do the same for his. In itself this is how, at least according to me, good bands are made up of musicians who have not too similar temperaments. It prevents all too polite confirmation and makes the members look at themselves anew time and again.
Over the years, however, emotion has become more and more present in my life in and outside music. I have witnessed music to be a very powerful tool in handling emotions, be they sad or happy or everything in between. People have shared their feelings while listening to my music with me and I have, on many occasions, been moved to tears while listening to music. It is one of the differences between young and older musicians. At twenty the personal collection of experiences is still quite empty. All episodes that will follow are enriching, both for the person and the musician. The backpack is growing and growing. Being drastically into this or that and not giving a shit about everything else –I love that about younger musicians, and even think that's essential for becoming a good story teller– will make room for a more balanced look at life and music. Best case scenario is that you meet as many others as possible that are or have been radically different from what you are or have been. The worst that can happen is that you meet nicely balanced colleagues only or peers who will never question your decisions or affirm what you already know.
I try to look beyond what I know to be one hundred percent true. It is not. And then I can decide to adjust my truth or not. Both are lovely challenges.
I will keep you posted on the release date of the solo album. You can have a sneak preview here.