Even in an “e” Band

Dutch keyboardist Michiel Braam changed the name of his electric band from the Wurli Trio to eBraam, and he now apparently favors the more varied Nord Stage EX over the ol’ Wurlitzer. The new band name speaks to the wider palette of keyboard voicings now open to Braam, while also seeming well suited to the 2013 music distribution/consumption Zeitgeist in which a lowercase “i” prefix marks hundreds of millions of mobile music-listening devices. And yet on 3, the group’s debut as eBraam and third album overall, Braam, bassist Pieter Douma, and drummer Dirk-Peter Kölsch look back over 40 years, claiming to take their inspiration and influences from Soft Machine’s landmark 1970 album Third, along with George Duke and Ten Years After -- so it seems that everything from psychedelic to jazz-rock, fusion, funk, and blues-rock would come into play here. Plus, the title 3 refers to the use of triads, thirds, and waltz meters among the compositional elements, unsurprising for a band whose 2006 album, Hosting Changes, was laden with anagrams. Patterns and structures -- whether in music or words -- are particular Braam obsessions, yet even in an “e” band, the result is more playful than mechanical.

 

The electric piano voicing of opening jazz-rocker “1B44, Please” is echoed by a Hammond sound from the stop-start downward tumbling theme through Braam’s explosive solo; with a bit of imagination this could be heard as a marriage of British instrumental prog and U.S. funk-fusion, but the tight, energized attack of the band is 100 percent Braam-Douma-Kölsch. Concept and execution come strongly together on album highlight “The Pindaric Ode” -- the ‘70s touchstones are fully present, yet the overall feel is 21st century. Two minutes of floating ambience are startlingly interrupted by a sudden blast into a grooving space-funk jam seasoned with burbling sequenced synth and brittle electro-percussive syncopations, over which Braam unleashes a screaming solo before retreating back toward space, although Douma and Kölsch don’t ever let the energy flag. Late album entry “3 Sheets to the Wind” begins with an intro of slow, siren-like synth oscillations, an urgent start to a deliberately paced blues, with Braam’s alternately soulful and rambunctious organ answered by bursts of electronic percussion rather than a wailing harmonica or guitar.

 

eBraam approach the inspiration of Soft Machine’s Third obliquely, but late Softs bassist Hugh Hopper is paid more direct homage. Although his solo on “Pythagorean Theorem” flirts with bass-popping funk, Douma seemingly aims for Hopper’s economical approach of playing over changes and sticking close to melodic themes in his improvisations. And Douma sings the words to Hopper’s “A Certain Kind” in suitably heartfelt yet understated fashion, retaining the near stream-of-consciousness flow of the lyrics. Originally sung by Robert Wyatt on 1968’s Soft Machine, Vol. 1, this is probably as straightforward a love song as the Softs ever delivered. With Braam’s muted, vibrato-laden round synth tones and lovely harp embellishments from guest Ulrike von Meier, this version does full justice to the original.

Dave Lynch, All Music Guide

A Quick Look at the Tracks

I still remember how pleasantly surprised I was, about four years ago, upon listening to the album by The Wurli Trio titled Non-Functionals! for the first time (the CD cover showed the album as released by Michiel Braam’s Wurli Trio, Braam being the group’s leader, and its only composer).

 

As I argued at length in my review, listening to this group (this was the first time I was presented with such an opportunity) made me file the music under “electric fusion of the non-tacky kind” (a definition that I’m sure some will regard as being an oxymoron). The name of the Trio coming from the instrument that here acted as the main sonic glue of the work: the famous Wurlitzer electric piano model 200A. (please continue reading here)

Beppe Colli, Clouds & Clocks

Best Album Of 2009

According to All About Jazz New York the trio’s latest ceedee “Non-Functionals!” is one of the Best Albums Of 2009, and the only Dutch item in the List.

Accessible Slices Of Electrified Keyboard Jazz

With the Wurlitzer’s calliope-like timbres, even when Braam is plays presto runs that relate to a blues sensibility the night-club vibe is missing. Replacing it on a track such as “Non Functional 5”, are skittering and staggering keyboard jumps, perched on top of Kölsch’s ceaseless shuffle rhythms. Here and elsewhere the keyboard action makes it appear as if the pianist is about to lose the theme’s nimble thread until he grasps it with high-frequency cadences. Other tracks feature stop-time pacing or staccatissimo runs from Braam, while Douma’s sluicing pulses and guitar-like chiming keep things both anchored and sonically garlanded. Accessible slices of electrified keyboard jazz”.

Ken Waxman, Jazz Word

Ultra-Cool But Winking All The Way

“Non-Functional 2” brings the down’n’dirty funk groove as Braam’s fingers glide across and batter the keyboard through multiple vamps and turnarounds, cranking up the energy until his rhythm mates can’t help but get caught up in his unleashed energy and flirt with jaggedly free territory before catching their breaths at the end. Elsewhere, “Non-Functional 4” slows down the pace to create a dreamy blues atmosphere; “5” heads out on the highway with perhaps the album’s most infectious straight-up rockin’ and the band in perfect sync (until Braam finds some low-down rubbery squelch to send everything dissipating into deep space); and “6” presents Kolsch at his best, driving the band with a relentless push and throwing all kinds of accents -- including some very nice hi-hat work -- into the mix. Ultimately, the Wurlitzer 200A electric piano is a great choice for Braam, in a characteristically sly way, with a sound that sometimes brings a slight touch of comedy: unlike the by now more clichéd Rhodes voicings, the Wurli mixes a bit of roller rink into its late-night club/lounge vibe. So Braam is ultra-cool but winking all the way -- a pure Dutch jazz master after all, even here.”

Dave Lynch, All Music Guide

Welcome to the website of Dutch pianist / composer / band leader Michiel Braam. You can find information about his groups and projects, listen to music and buy CDs in the shop. If you are interested in being informed a few times a year you can subscribe to our News Letters.

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Tweet April 20, 2017: I think I'm getting in my psychedelic phase now, listening to Pink Floyd a lot (still working on a Penguins Too... https://t.co/teLWbO08Pj

The Curaçao Experience Released!

October 13th Nos Otrobanda's first album, The Curaçao Experience, arrived. 18 tunes were recorded at ACEC Apeldoorn, where we could, thanks to the friendly cooperation of orkest de ereprijs, use a fine recording space for three days. The album is a typical DIY product; we recorded the music ourselves with some advice from Rein Sprong, we did the art work on our own, using a band photo and beautiful macro picture as front image by Marjan Smejsters and some final advice from Pascale Companjen and were along the process of learning the tunes helped in several ways by Joop Halman and the Palm Music Foundation. Joop has also written the liner notes, which you can find below.

We are yet to plan the release concerts, but one of them is already set: December 18 we will play the Uterelease Concert and present the album in a concert at the very same place where it was recorded. We would be glad to welcome you! Free entrance!

 

Check out the Nos Otrobanda pages for more info and samples of the music.

 

The Liner Notes

 

Otrobanda: the cradle of the Curaçaoan waltz, danza, mazurka and tumba.

 

It is in colorful Otrobanda where elements of European, African, Caribbean and Latin American cultures influenced each other and where Curaçao’s music culture emerged in the mid-19th century. Since then It manifested itself lively in the streets and squares and in the houses in Otrobanda. A home party in Otrobanda was unimaginable without the playing of music and dancing. 

 

Jan Gerard (Gerry) Palm (1831-1906) is generally considered the father of the Curaçaoan waltzes, mazurkas, danzas and tumbas. He is also the patriarch of the musical Palm dynasty which includes composers such as Rudolf Palm (1880-1950), Jacobo Palm (1887-1982), Toni Palm (1885-1962), Albert Palm (1903-1958) and Edgar Palm (1905-1998).  All the members of this musical family were born and lived in Otrobanda.

 

By his piano performances and the recording of numerous LPs and CDs, maestro Edgar Palm succeeded in keeping the rich musical heritage of his family alive. Two of Edgar Palm’s albums, ‘Otrobanda’ and ‘Music of the Netherlands Antilles’, have inspired jazz pianist Michiel Braam to start to work on a new musical journey. He transcribed all the tunes of both albums and  formed with Antillean bassist Aty de Windt and percussionist André Groen their trio ‘Nos Otrobanda’. On this journey, Michiel also discovered something special that he has in common with Edgar Palm: although with a time span difference of some decades, he and Edgar Palm had the same music teacher, Rudi Feenstra.

 

Nos Otrobanda succeeded in creating an authentic, vivid and catchy performance of Curaçao’s music. This CD may be considered as a most welcome and creative addition to the variety of interpretations of Antillean music.

 

Joop Halman

Chairman of the Palm Music Foundation

The Aye performed in South Africa

THE AYE, a stage show adapted from Ana Isabel Ordonez's internationally acclaimed book, THE EXTRAORDINARY LOVE STORY OF AYE AYE AND FEDOR, was performed to celebrate the 85th birthday of Nobel Peace Laureate Monseigneur Archbishop Desmond Tutu as a part of the Sixth Annual Desmond TutuInternational Peace Conference in Cape Town on 7 October.

 

THE AYE is a dance theatre extravaganza that depicts a beautiful love story between two endangered animals: Aye Aye, a lemur, Fedor, and a white lion. Each defines the term "opposites attract" in a fantastic universe called the Musical Forest. While Aye Aye was free to run wild and enjoy the forest, Fedor was stuck in a zoo. The two meet while he is in captivity. They strike up a friendship that helps them both make some important discoveries and launches them on a journey to places they never thought they would go. Inspired by her love for Fedor, Aye Aye helps the animals at the zoo, who have had a difficult time in captivity, to escape and reunite in the Magical Forest where they are finally free, allowed to celebrate who they are. A happy ending is in store for everyone, thanks to the courage and quick thinking of Aye Aye and Fedor. Aye Aye and Fedor's journey is a great example of friendship and cooperation between friends who on the surface seem to be very different from one another, but who have similar goals and a desire to share their lives together.

 

The world premiere of the dance theatre adaptation in South Africa will feature a fantastic set, a jazz-rock score by Michiel Braam, inspired choreography by Sifiso Kweyama and mischievous masks handmade in South Africa by La Carla Masks. The magical show will bring together a sparkling fusion of music (in a definitive recording by eBraam which includes drummer Dirk-Peter Kölsch, guitarists Pieter Douma and Jörg Lehnardt and harpist Ulrike von Meier), dance (by Jazzart Dance Theatre) and amusing narration (by New York based singer Dean Bowman). THE AYE was performed by Jazzart Dance Theater company dancers Adam Malebo and Tracey September, joined by Abdul-Aaghier Isaacs, Amber Jodie Andrews, Darion Adams, Gabriella Dirkse, Ilze Williams, Keenun Wales, Luyanda Mdingi, Lynette du Plessis, Mandisi Ngcwayi, Paxton-Alice Simons, Siphosethu Gojo, Tanzley Jooste, Thandiwe Mqokeli and Vuyolwethu Nompetsheni.

 

An album with both music and Dean Bowman's narration as well as an album with longer instrumental version of the composition only are available at Amazon.

Click here for The Music & Narration version or here for The Music only version.

New Solo Album Released!

Last December I played a solo set at Opus Jazz Club in Budapest, which was organized by Budapest Music Center. The set was recorded and now issued under the title "Gloomy Sunday" on the BMC label.

 

For me, doing a solo concert doesn’t involve any preparation in terms of a set-list or anything concrete about pieces I will be playing. I simply start and see where everything leads me to.

At this concert, I made an exception to this custom. Not only would it be nice to play one of the many famous Hungarian compositions in Budapest, but also the very night of the concert, students of the ArtEZ University of the Arts, where I am head of Jazz & Pop, organized a concert in remembrance of our student Robin Cornelissen who had died exactly two years earlier. I had played ”Gloomy Sunday” at his funeral and playing it in the Opus Jazz Club connected me to Robin, as well as to the great Hungarian music tradition.

 

Check out the webshop for details, samples of all 10 tunes inclusive.

 

Recordings Nos Otrobanda July 2016

Beginning July Nos Otrobanda will, one and a half year after its premiere concert and hopefully 20 degrees warmer, finally make real recordings of 21 songs the trio is playing at the moment. We'll make an album with those recordings. The album will be including (in alphabetical order) Ana Maria/Antillana, Azucena/Otrobanda, Canto De Los Angeles, Casino, Cocktail De Sjon Jan, Dandie, Eliza, Erani ta Malu, Ina, La India, La Inspiración, Lo Bello, Manina, Maria Cecilia, Mosaico de Tumbas 2, Ramillete Venezolano, Sabrosita, Sorpresa Inesperada, Teleraña, Tumba Cocktail y Salza 1 and Winy.

New album by Olanda In Due out now.

We issued the first album of our duo Olanda In Due, with Bo Van de Graaf on saxes. Including tunes by musicians such as Guiseppe Verdi, Nico Haak and Billie Holiday. Recorded live at the NovaraJazz Festival this summer.

Click here to find out how to order and hear samples of the tunes.

First performance Nos Otrobanda!

February 5, 2015, at BReBL, Nijmegen, this trio played its first concert. You can check out several tunes of that concert on SoundCloud.

 

In this brand-new band I play together with bass player Aty de Windt and latin percussionist André Groen. With Nos Otrobanda we concentrate on Antillean music, especially waltzes. I hear this music for like 26 years now and all of those years I wanted to do something with the music myself. It took me this long to grasp the nettle. I transcribed the music from 2 elpees of Curaçao pianist Edgar Palm and we are also very grateful to Joop Halman of the Palm Music Foundation for his contributions. I find especially the constant danceable friction between binary and ternary rhythm in this music very intriguing.This year (Bas Andriessen filmed our somewhat ill at ease first rehearsal) we worked on the material, in which process Aty not only provided a relaxed swing in his role as our bass player but also learned us about the essentials of Antillean music. It has been quite some time ago since I played Latin-American music. We must go way back to 1997, when I played, after being a member of that band for eight years, my last gig with the European Danzón Orchestra. It is truly delicious to play Latin music again, this time with Nos Otrobanda.

New Website Online

Welcome to our new website! About 10 times faster now, and working not only on competers but also on tablets, telephones and so forth. Info, reviews, concert dates, photos, videos, music samples, a shop, news items and how to contact us is all included. Thanks to Sjors of &Braam Super Sexy Web Development!

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