| Willem Breuker Kollektief (The Netherlands):
Now enjoying its 30th anniversary this year, the Willem Breuker Kollektief remains one of Europe's finest ensembles playing contemporary and improvised music - Dutch reply to American avant-garde.
The unique orchestra plays distinct, intriguing and playful music, rich in unexpected turns, sudden shifts in musical mood and a fine sense of irony. Cutting across traditional musical lines, the musicians intertwine jazz with academic and pop music, combine improvisations and cabaret, free jazz and aleatoric elements, chanson and theatre, politics and humour. Orchestra's witty, ironic and theatrical approach involves quotations and stylisations of various kinds ranging from marching band and circus music to Latin dance and music for film, as well as musical reflections of visited countries and motives of Japanese and Chinese music. Whether performing original compositions or original takes on Gershwin, Ellington, Prokofiev, Mussorgsky, Sati, all these ingredients, weaved into fanfaric arrangements and blended into a distinct dramaturgy, create an inimitable physiognomy of the orchestra.
Stupendously energetic and exceptionally conceptual Willem Breuker Kollektief is equally at home in jazz clubs as in philharmonic halls.
The unique orchestra was formed within one of the first European associations of free jazz improvisers - ICP (Instant Composers Pool) . Three Dutch jazz celebrities - Willem Breuker, Han Bennink and Misha Mengelberg - formed this non-commercial Dutch avant-garde jazz structure in 1967. In 1974 group of improvisers headed by Willem Breuker have pulled out of the wind orchestra Volharding set up in ICP and initiated Willem Breuker Kollektief.
Already in two years the orchestra has conquered jazz audiences not only in its native Holland and Europe, but also in the Motherland of jazz. Since 1986 Willem Breuker Kollektief has regularly appeared in the big band category of the prestigious critic poll in Down Beat. The orchestra has been one of the busiest ensembles in Europe for the last twenty years, touring extensively in Eastern and Western Europe, Russia, Canada, the USA, Mexico, India, China, Japan and Australia, playing an average of 85 concerts a year. The orchestra has 12 CD's to its credit, numerous radio and television performances, and its own annual festival in Amsterdam.
Cappella of seven wind instruments and an exceptional percussion group are to be credited for Willem Breuker Kollektief's unique style and fanfaric sound. All members are universal musicians and brilliant improvisers, with excellent professional credentials. Breuker writes his arrangements with these musicians specifically in mind.
The initiator and leader of the orchestra, Willem Breuker, works here in many directions - as a composer and arranger, conductor and generator of the most startling ideas, an actor and multi-instrumentalist - accomplished saxophonist, clarinettist and bass-clarinettist.
Willem Breuker, undoubtedly, is the one of the most well-known, prolific and influential figures on European jazz scene. His discography embodies an exhaustive history of European free jazz. He started his career in the 60s. Still in his teens he got interested in Arnold Schoenberg and Edgar Varese, which prompted him to try his hand at composing. Very early on he mastered several wind instruments and participated in competitions, sometimes winning prizes and, sometimes, causing quite a scandal.
After one of his scandalous appearances in competition, Misha Mengelberg invited him to his own quartet. It marked a new beginning in Breuker's professional career. He performed and recorded with Han Bennink, Gunter Hampel, Evan Parker, Derek Bailey, Anthony Braxton, John Tchicai, and Globe Unity Orchestra. In 1968 he joined international Peter Brötzman octet Mashine Gun (critics regard this octet as one of the most significant achievements in avant-garde world, and compare its importance to that of Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen), in 1969 he collaborated with Lester Bowie's Baden-Baden Free Jazz Orchestra, in 1971 - Penderecki - Don Cherry New Eternal Rhythm Orchestra.
From the very kick-off of his career Breuker proved to be a leader: in 1967 together with Misha Mengelberg and Han Bennink he established Instant Composers Pool, a recording studio, in the beginning of the 70s together with minimalist Luis Andriessen set up Volharding orchestra, in 1974 he left ICP to form his own ensemble and established recording label Bvhaast that documented many of Breuker's compositions and released Willem Breuker Kollektief's recordings.
Willem Breuker has collaborated almost with all big names in European avant-garde jazz and improvised music scene, wrote numerous compositions for his own ensemble, theatre and film. He received many commissions from the government including Amsterdam's Musica '85 event, for which Breuker assembled a parade of 1500 musicians and dancers.
In recognition of Breuker's outstanding contributions to Dutch music, he was awarded the Dutch National Jazz Prize in 1970, the Jazz Prize of the West German Music Critics in 1976, and the coveted Bird Award in 1988.
Saxophonist Hermine Deurloo, also hailed as a chromatic harmonica virtuoso, has joined Willem Breuker Kollektief in 1999. She studied saxophone at the Sweelinck Conservatory, and since 1994 has specialized in the chromatic harmonica. Today Hermine Deurloo is the leading chromatic harmonica soloist in Europe. She has recorded two CD's on chromatic harmonica, which received excellent reviews, as a soloist has performed with The Metropole Orchestra and the Royal Orchestra of the Concertgebouw, has collaborated with musicians such as Al Jarreau, Toots Thielemans, Han Bennink, Sezen Aksu, Denise Jannah, as well as Ronald Snijders Band, and Allessi Brothers. Besides working in Kollektief, she plays in trio Deurloo&Gomes Brazilian Jazz, quartet I Say Jazz, and clarinet quartet Clarte Noir.
Saxophonist Maarten van Norden has played in Breuker's orchestra for 30 years. Universal musician also composes music and collaborates with group Future Shock, blending jazz-rock, fusion and funk, and is a member of Contraband.
Trumpeter Boy Raaymakers, like Maarten van Norden, has played in Willem Breuker Kollektief since 1975. A veteran of golden age of free jazz, this seasoned trumpeter is a member of Free Music Quintet, and also a composer.
German trumpeter Andy Altenfelder is one of the virtuoso wisecrackers and substantial parts of the Willem Breuker Kollektief. Member of the orchestra since 1981, he charms with his bravura improvisations, time and again challenging Boy Raymakers to a vaudeville duel, sometimes wandering klezmer pathways or breaking into singing.
Scottish trombonist Andy Bruce is the latest addition to the orchestra. After graduating from the Scottish Royal Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, he joined Scottish Wind Ensemble, and played in Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Scottish Opera. In 1992 he came to the Netherlands to study jazz at the Hilversum Conservatory. The trombonist soon started collaborating with Dutch groups, including Bob Color, Beau Hunks, Raise the Roof!, Formatie Concordia, and concert jazz orchestra. Not long ago he has joined the Willem Breuker Kollektief.
Trombonist and tuba player Bernard Hunnekink is one of the original members of Willem Breuker Kollektief, collaborating with Breuker since Volharding orchestra days. Beside working in the Kollektief, he composes for film and theatre, arranges, and since 1995, has led his own orchestra Bernard Hunnekink Orkest.
Keyboardist Henk de Jonge has played on a professional scene since 1980. In addition to being a member of this legendary orchestra, the pianist composes, leads trio and plays in the Bernard Hunnekink Orkest.
Veteran of Dutch free jazz bassist Arjen Gorter, praised for his flexible and masterful style, has collaborated with Breuker since 1966. They both played in small groups and orchestras, recorded many albums. Among others Arjen Gorter has worked with Alexander von Schlippenbachen Global Unity Orchestra, Carl Rüdiger, and Gunter Hampel. He also plays in Flute Jazz Trio, Van Bommel quartet, and Drummers Double Bill.
Another original member of the Kollektief - Rob Verdurmen - is a brilliant drummer and resourceful composer. He has composed several pieces for Breuker's orchestra, writes music for film. Rob Verdurmen also plays in Henko de Jonge trio and is a founder of Drummers Double Bill.
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