In the spotlights #1: Rembrandt Frerichs

10 April 2020

No less than 4 groups from the Netherlands were announced for the European Jazz Meeting during jazzahead! in Bremen on April 24th. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the influential jazz music fair will skip 2020. It is a big blow for a lot of artists and professionals who planned on doing business there. InJazz and Dutch Performing Arts were ready to host the Dutch umbrella stand at jazzahead! as usual. Instead, we will share online interviews with them.

“A return to the hipness of modern jazz”
Our first spotlight is on pianist and composer Rembrandt Frerichs. A staple of the Dutch jazz scene, Rembrandt and his Trio have also performed with top European musicians like Paolo Fresu, Vincent Peirani and Norma Winstone. Their new album Graffiti Jazz is out now.

What were your first actions when you realised that most of your tour was cancelled?
“The first thing l needed to do when this crisis started, was reaching out to my colleague musicians. See how they were feeling, seeing what we still can do together. After it seemed most of them physically are okay, I started doing some extra work on the composition assignment. l have to compose a jazz piano concerto for musicians of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and myself as soloist. I kind of needed some extra time, so now turns out to be the moment for that.”

Out of all the online initiatives that have sprouted from this crisis, is there one in specific that you embraced?
“No, it makes me realise even more than before that physical contact with one’s audience is important. I’m not exactly overwhelmed by the audio and video quality of all the online one-person-streams l see, so I’m really looking forward to share the music again live with our audience.”

You are not unfamiliar with jazzahead!, as we have seen you there on the stand of Dutch.inJazz for many years. Given your showcase slot for this cancelled edition, did you have specific plans for promotion or marketing at the fair?
“Nothing really specific. Indeed, we have been playing on the European scene for about ten years now. Jazzahead! can be a nice hangout to meet up with old and new friends. Our scheduled showcase was a nice opportunity to show the festivals and venues what we are up to, with this new album, called Graffiti Jazz.”

It says in your bio that when you were a teen, you were very much into graffiti, which you practiced wholeheartedly. The playful nature of graffiti seems to lead the way on your new album. Was this idea a reaction to your previous, slightly more serious projects?
“A little bit as well. I would say our previous albums were more in the poetic field. And with this one, I return as both a pianist and as a composer to the hipness of modern jazz, anno 2020. I’ve had the chance to develop some new rhythms that we incorporate throughout the album, like my bouncing 19/8 beat on Binnen Zonder Kloppen and Skoeba.”

Can you elaborate somewhat on your musical relationship with Vinsent Planjer and Tony Overwater? And how it has developed over the last couple of years?
“We are really what one could call a working band. Meaning that we rehearse every week in my studio, whether we have a concert that week or not. In doing so the last years, we have developed quite a bit as a musical unit, now feeling as free as possible to take all the decisions we want on stage, to let the music take us places.”

Do you have a favourite track on the album? If yes, which one?
“All tracks are my favourites, of course, otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered spending so much time in composing them, ha!”

Graffiti Jazz by the Rembrandt Frerichs Trio is out on Zennez Records. It contains eight pieces composed by Rembrandt, as well as a trio interpretation of Paul Simon’s 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.
Rembrandt Frerichs (grand piano)
Tony Overwater (acoustic bass)
Vinsent Planjer (drums and percussion)

Read also:
In the spotlights #2: Sun-Mi Hong
In the spotlights #3: Guy Salamon
In the spotlights #4: KAMA Kollektiv