Low countries – high peaks

In late February and early March Alan Skidmore undertook a tour of the Netherlands, plus an excursion into Belgium, with his old pianist friend and colleague Rein de Graaff known in his homeland as Dr Bop.

Billed as The Saxophone Summit, the tour started in Rein’s home town of Groningen in the north of Holland before moving on to Tilburg, Amsterdam, Utrecht and Heist op den Berg south of Antwerp in Belgium. Skid took his trusty tenor throughout and was joined by Dutch jazz stars Benjamin Herman (who’s actually half British) on alto saxophone and Tineke Postma on alto and soprano. They were superbly driven along by Rein at the piano, Marius Beets on double bass and Eric Ineke on drums. This is the schedule:

28 February Brouwerij Martinus, Groningen
2 March Paradox, Tilburg
3 March Bimhuis Amsterdam
4 March Tivoli Vredenburg, Utrecht
5 March Hnita Jazz Club, Heist op den Berg, Belgium

I was fortunate to be able to join the band for the sound check and concert in Amsterdam on Saturday and on Sunday in Utrecht. The set list varied from gig to gig but all gave each of the saxophonists a chance to shine individually as well as contributing to the ensembles when all three horns blew their lungs out in a series of scintillating solos and brilliant arrangements. Piano, bass and drums were also provided with many opportunities to shine. The tunes included Rogers and Hart’s Easy to Remember; Miles Davis’ All Blues; the Sigmund Romberg classic Softly as in a Morning Sunshine; the John Coltrane ballad Say It; Thelonius Monk’s I Mean You and Nutty and ended with Coltrane’s Impressions which drew peak performances from all three in the front line. Here are a few photographs to give a flavour of the tour.

 

 

Bimhuis three horns 2

Saxophone summit riding high Benjamin Herman, Tineke Postma and Alan Skidmore

Then on Sunday it was off to Utrecht and another impressive concert hall the Tivoli Vredenburg which has a number of different rooms for each type of music. Jazz was in Cloud Nine the blue semicircle at the top.

Tivoli Marius, Skid and Eric

Skid with Marius Beets and Eric Ineke

Words and photographs © 2018 Mike Raggett www.verbalists.uk

 

 

New CD release

Naima.jpg

Saturday 25th November saw the launch of a double CD of music by two of Alan’s quartets by Uli Blobel’s German label Jazzwerkstatt. One CD features a concert recorded in Berlin in 2007, the other a 2011 gig at the Boxford Fleece which was Alan’s last opportunity to work with long-time drummer collaborator, the late Tony Levin.

Jazzwerkstatt held a two-day festival at the Vortex Jazz Club in Dalston featuring artistes who were also releasing new CDs. Alan played an all-Coltrane set with his customary enthusiasm and vigour to a rapturous reception. It’s perhaps worth noting that Alan is nearly twice the age of John Coltrane when he played these numbers.

Alan also features on one of the tracks Mr Skid. on the new album from the Leo Richardson quartet and will be guesting with the band at the Pizza Express Jazz Club on 12th December.

Alan Skidmore honoured

Saturday 7 October 2017 saw the official opening of the National Jazz Centre at the Beecroft Gallery in Southend. The Centre houses an impressive collection of important jazz memorabilia including Louis Armstrong’s trumpet, John Dankworth’s first piano and the complete Humphrey Lyttleton archive.

Display case

Alan and Digby Fairweather admiring Jimmy Skidmore’s tenor sax

It has a programme of screenings of jazz films and other events.

It also has a display which includes Jimmy Skidmore’s tenor saxophone which Alan donated to the Centre.

 

 

 

Digby salver

During the opening celebrations, Alan was presented with a silver salver recognising his 60 years in jazz. At the presentation founder of the Centre Digby Fairweather praised Alan for his contribution to jazz and his generosity to the National Jazz Centre. Alan replied, “I’ve given six decades of my life to this art-form and I appreciate its full celebration here in words and deeds”.

PlayingHe then played a set to the delight of the crowds attending this significant event. Alan was especially pleased to be in the company of the next generation of jazz musicians as members of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra followed his performance. The Centre will maintain close links with the orchestra to develop jazz in the future as well as displaying its past.

[Photographs courtesy Graham Mullett]

 

TREBLE DUTCH

In what is billed as the Saxophone Summit, Alan Skidmore will join alto and soprano saxophonist Tineke Postma and alto player Benjamin Herman in a series of concerts in the Netherlands during late February and early March. Alan is delighted to be reunited with the pianist Rein de Graaff’s superb trio with Marius Beets on bass and Eric Ineke on drums with whom he has enjoyed many gigs over the years. The two young saxophone partners in this series are also highly accomplished performers.

Tineke PostmaTineke Postma studied at the Amsterdam Conservatory and the Manhattan School of Music in New York. She has played with Greg Osby, Geri Allen, Scott Colley and Terri Lyne Carrington and has released six CDs to date. In 2015 she was awarded the Boy Edgar Prize the top award for jazz musicians in the Netherlands.

Benjamin_Herman_playing_saxIn a similar pathway Benjamin Herman studied at Hilversum Conservatory before going to the Manhattan School of Music. His musical career has involved founding the New Cool Collective an eight-piece band with soul, jazz and Latin influences. He is also a recipient of the Boy Edgar Prize in 2003 and has some 20 albums with the New Cool Collective and a similar number as leader of a variety of small groups.

Dates so far announced are Bimhuis Amsterdam on Saturday 3 March at 20:30 and

Tivoli Vredenburg Utrecht on Sunday 4 March at 16:00

Others will be added as they are announced but these are bound to be memorable concerts with Alan’s brilliant tenor playing added to two talented younger players and a trio that has backed Alan on numerous occasions. There’s no better excuse for a quick trip to Amsterdam and/or one of the Netherlands’ hidden gems the wonderful city of Utrecht.