Freedom, flexibility and an aversion to boredom: these are the pillars on which the music of pianist and composer Michiel Braam rests. As a kid he listened to symphonic rock on pirate Radio Veronica and to the hardrock of local hero, guitarist Eddie Van Halen. He is now one of the most productive band leaders on the Dutch jazz scene. His mission: make his role as leader as inconspicuous as possible.
As a pianist Michiel Braam combines exceptional virtuosity with a playful unpredictability. ''I'm a child of the zap culture, I get bored quickly. If I know what's coming beforehand it's no fun any more.' Important influences are pianists Cecil Taylor, Thelonius Monk and Lennie Tristano, who like Braam moved outside the mainstream while building on the jazz tradition. Braam's infectious dynamic and percussive style is strictly his own. His unexpected, sometimes comic meanderings are never abstract or obtuse, but always rooted in the material. Braam takes you on a wild and surprising journey, but makes sure that you don't get lost.
In his role as composer and bandleader Michiel Braam attempts to apply his open playing style to bigger ensembles. He is constantly looking for greater musical freedom. His Trio BraamDeJoodeVatcher has little in common with the traditional piano trio. The musicians are totally equal: bass player and drummer have just as much influence on the direction of the improvisations as the pianist. The 13 piece Bik Bent Braam - for whom Braam is always writing new material – can scarcely be compared with a conventional big band. Braam's material can be introduced by the band members at will, combined or adjusted. Each concert is improvised yet totally accessible. Musicians such as Duke Ellington and Charles Mingus serve as inspiration in Braam's striving for an homogenous and personal orchestral sound. Michiel Braam: 'My music isn't about me, it's about the musicians who play it.'
Michiel Braam (Nijmegen, the Netherlands, 1964) graduated from the conservatory of ArtEZ Institute of the Arts in Arnhem in 1987. He is now head of the Jazz & Pop Department there. He founded Bik Bent Braam and Bentje Braam in 1986, Trio BraamDeJoodeVatcher in 1989, eBraam (f.k.a. Wurli Trio) in 2006, his Hybrid 10tet in 2011, Flex Bent Braam in 2013, Nos Otrobanda in 2014. Together with Frans Vermeerssen he led the sextet All Ears, featuring, among others, Frank Gratkowski and Herb Robertson. Michiel Braam has worked with the European Danzón Orchestra, John Engels Flextet, Peggy Larson Band, Globe Orchestra and Bo's Art Trio. Musical collaborators include Louis Sclavis, George Lewis, Benjamin Herman, Paul van Kemenade, Theo Jörgensmann, Han Bennink, Michael Moore, Ab Baars, Conrad and Johannes Bauer and Steve Arguelles. He was awarded the Podiumprize for young talented musicians in 1988. In 1997 he received the Netherlands' most important jazz prize: the Boy Edgar Prize.