Look Who’s Not Talking!

March 1, 2014

Over the years I’ve worked with many bands, each having its own way of communication, musically as well as verbally.

 

It strikes me that the level of verbal communication seems to be inversely proportional to the depth reached in music.An example of this is our trio BraamDeJoodeVatcher. Don’t misunderstand me here, there is no personal problem between us and apart from the regular tour irritations (I could fill you in, but it’s really not worth mentioning) we get along absolutely fine, I would say above average. But we don’t visit each other birthdays, don’t do dinner appointments nor stay very long after gigs and do very little together in between concerts while on tour. Hanging out is simply not our thing. It has been like that since we started, half-a-life ago. This band is about playing, not talking. Most of what we want to share with each other we share musically. This makes Wilbert and Michael very dear friends I wouldn’t like to miss for the world; whatever we play to each other is pure and fair. Love it.

 

In bands which have more going on while not playing, with a lot of laughing around, stories, family business, gossip, drama, well you get the picture, there is simply less need for communication while performing music together. That is why many of those bands (not all, over the years I have been a member of bands that would prove me totally wrong if I would generalize this!) have less of the indispensable urge to communicate musically. Even if all members of such a band would be really skilled musicians, which so many musicians are nowadays, there could simply be nothing else to communicate about while playing when everything is said in words already.

 

It also gets interesting when trying to connect the two ways of interaction.

On tour in Canada with my orchestra Bik Bent Braam we decided to have a brainstorm-dinner in a Chinese restaurant in Ottawa, and, if that wasn’t enough, a few years later we did some brainstorm-lunches in Amsterdam. At the time we felt the meetings could help us interpreting written parts and improvising together and I even think for a few gigs it did. It is rather complicated to improvise with 13 musicians, to cook a delicious meal with all those chefs in the kitchen. All those tastes, opinions, all those really lovely people connecting 13 dots in their own way (see the short film by Jellie Dekker on how Bik Bent Braam worked). Well, it arose many questions in the band and the brainstorm seemed a logical recipe for change. But in the end it didn’t. It could very well be possible that, for instance, a management team of 13 members would try to improve as a group through talks, agreements and arrangements. But it’s simply not possible to make improvised music against your nature (pure, fair) and if you set goals together, with 13, a lot of what is discussed will be asking you to do things that you would not do if you could choose freely. And our music is, like all art, almost exclusively about freedom and telling what you want to tell undiluted. There is no other way; leave freedom out and you could as well leave. The best that could happen after a brainstorm is that you are even more aware of that and have an even more may-I-please-decide-that-myself-?-attitude. Thát helps!

 

So, let’s stop using precious time talking about our musical adventures, about what happened and what we think should happen in the future. Let’s use that precious time playing together, filling our knapsack with personal and collective material we can use telling our musical stories, training ourselves in listening to what others have to play and how to come up with fresh ways to react to that on-the-spot, working on our collective sense of rhythm.

 

I have been thinking this all might only be relevant for groups that exist for a long time (both mentioned bands for about 25 years) and that after a long time you reach your personal core concerning music and interaction in which process you have bid farewell to a talking overload in order to give intuition more room, or there is simply not very much to talk about in words after a long time. But that is not the case. In those bands it has been like that from the start and also in our relatively new band eBraam we grow by playing, not discussing; our grooves do not gain from chats but from hours and hours of musical interplay.

 

Currently I am transcribing and learning Antillean music and shortly we will be starting a new band to play the music with. I am convinced that we will get sort of a grip on the distinct and simultaneous use of binary and ternary rhythm in this delicious music not by talking, but by doing it over and over again.

 

Let’s not be distracted by talking and use the precious time to play, play and play!

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Tweet November 13, 2017: Drums. Dance. Piano. Would be lovely to welcome you this Wednesday. With Thomas Jaspers and Yuliya Globa. Enclosed.… https://t.co/WYTJ89GSqp

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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