In 1995 Braam wrote "The XYZ of Bik Bent Braam" for the large band he founded in 1986 and which was a working band until 2013. The program consisted of 26 pieces, one for each letter of the alphabet and was then considered Michiel's provisional masterpiece. The reviews spoke of "a perfect balance between the classic big band idiom and a more contemporary sound", "Braam's compositions are among the most fascinating that Dutch jazz has to offer", "Braam is entitled to a full-time jazz ensemble", "stunningly beautiful", "spectacular", "on top of all insubordination, all pieces contain a small melodic pearl", "particularly spiritual", "belongs to the best jazz recorded in 1996, wherever in the world", "not arrogant or sarcastic, but with infectious kindness", "Braam brings out the best in the musicians", "the most adventurous Dutch jazz around", "This is Jazz as dada, where the music’s hysterical edge conveys an air of unrelenting slapstick". Many reviewers referred to Duke Ellington as a main source of inspiration for orchestra and compositions. The program was presented in two tours and played 3 times over a few years in a sold out Bimhuis. One of those concerts was recorded and released in 1996 at Willem Breuker’s BVHaast label. Later that same year, Bik Bent Braam received a structural subsidy and Michiel was awarded the Boy Edgar Prize.
After 25 years, and many concerts with various bands and in various styles, Braam arranged a sort of Latin version under the title "El XYZ de Son Bent Braam". In the jubilee year 2020, the new arrangement will be performed in a line-up of top musicians from the Dutch jazz and Latin scenes. Around Braam's trio Nos Otrobanda (with Aty de Windt, baby bass and André Groen, percussion) that specializes in Antillean music, extra percussionists (Martin Gort and new talent Danny Rombout), brass players (Angelo Verploegen and the upcoming Joël Botma, trumpet, Ilja Reijngoud and the young phenomenon Efe Erdem, trombone) and saxophonists (Bart van der Putten, Efraim Trujillo, Frank Nielander and emerging star Jesse Schilderink) have gathered. The arrangement contains the styles mambo, bolero, cha-cha, montuno, merengue, calypso, son, rumba, bembé, boogaloo, mozambique, samba, afro, danzón and is suitable for listeners and dancers.
The program contains the parts Apagado, Bienestar, Chachachando, Duelo, Electricidad, Fugazmente, Guasón, Hipsifobia, Improvisación, Jazzz, Kuratela, Lentomaslentomáslento, Marcha, Noisettes, Obeso, Pico, Quickstep, Reposadamente, Solfear, Tristano, Ultra, Violeta, Wolfitas, X, Yate, Zafio and will be presented in 2 versions, with the parts following each other seamlessly. A 100-minutes version with a break between M and N, and in a special 75-minutes festival cut without a break.
The first two concerts, at Stranger than Paranoia festival, in December 2019, were recorded for an album issue. Son Bent Braam will do a release concert during this year's Music Meeting, June 1st. Go to our shop page to hear samples of all tunes and order your copy, or click here to go through the 26 parts in just over two minutes.