Felix Schlarmann’s Tree House

19 January 2023

Amsterdam-based drummer Felix Schlarmann is deeply rooted in the Dutch jazz scene – the neighbouring country has been his home for almost twenty years now. There he plays with numerous formations, teaches at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague and is a dedicated organiser and curator, among other things through his successful festival Jazzfest Amsterdam.

With the Tree House project, Felix Schlarmann presents a new band, eight years after the release of his debut album Counterlife (Challenge Records). Tree House was commissioned by jazzahead!, and the timing couldn’t have been better. The desire for such a project was already very present before jazzahead! called.

Through his various activities for the Dutch scene, Felix Schlarmann has always been interested in connecting musicians of different directions and generations. That is exactly what he is doing in this new project. Tree House has become a large ensemble, a group of musicians reflecting the diverse and international jazz scene in the Netherlands. The collective process is central in the development of the repertoire and the general band sound. The starting point is this sound, inspired by different styles that Felix wants to capture with this special line-up, and which should invite collective artistic work. Hence the project name: a tree house means adventure, joy, and excitement. It offers security, recalls carefree childhood days, is melancholic in retrospect. The detached location creates a feeling of freedom that invites you to play and experiment. You can hide there, but climbing it is arduous and often a challenge.

Felix Schlarmann’s Tree House is such a tree house, a project that is both a challenge and an inspiration because of its line-up alone. An interesting group of musicians who complement each other perfectly in terms of sound, and create something new together. Music that, through the different musical personalities, seems like the many branches of a tree, the many colours of sound like the play of colours of the leaves through which you look out of the tree house.

About the line-up:

In addition to Felix Schlarmann, there is another German involved, a long-time musical companion who has been working in the Netherlands for a long time. Franz von Chossy, who has celebrated international success with his own groups, but also with the world music formation Arifa, sits at the piano in the Tree House.

From the Netherlands comes alto saxophonist Ben van Gelder, who has played with almost all the jazz greats of the world and, according to Allaboutjazz, was considered “an important new voice on the New York jazz scene”. After years in the American jazz metropolis, Ben has returned to his old home.

On tenor saxophone is Mete Erker, who lives in Tilburg and, in addition to his own groups and a duo with Jeroen van Vliet, is known for ensembles such as the Artvark Saxophone Quartet and Estafest. The Englishman Pat Cleaver on bass grew up in France and ended up in the Netherlands via Belgium, where he also plays with the band Tin Men & The Telephone, among others.

Liva Dumpe is a true vocal artist. Originally from Latvia, she is one of the many international musicians who appreciate studying music in Amsterdam and thus start their career here. Dutch guitarist Olivier van Niekerk is the youngest musician in the group, currently studying at the Amsterdam and Paris Conservatoires. He effortlessly blends his virtuoso playing into this 7-piece formation.

Felix Schlarmann’s Tree House
Ben van Gelder – alto saxophone
Mete Erker – tenor saxophone
Līva Dumpe – voice
Olivier van Niekerk – guitar
Franz von Chossy – piano
Pat Cleaver – bass
Felix Schlarmann – drums