Mo van der Does on fellow musicians, his debut album and wishlist

25 June 2019

This year, with various panels during the conference in Rotterdam on Friday 28 June, inJazz wants to keep the dialogue about the nature and the nurturing of talent going. After all, it is the core business of inJazz. Then there are the performances of many young and ambitious artists, most of them both composer and musician, in the evenings of 27 and 28 June. One player that we’d like to highlight is Mo van der Does. An Amsterdam-based alto saxophonist who is making big waves nationally. “He’s playing like a devil” is what Benjamin Herman had to say about Mo, and we don’t argue with that.

May we quote your website? “In 2014 Mo won the first prize and the Laureate jury prize of the prestigious Prinses Christina Jazz Concours, in 2017 the public prize of the Leidse Jazz Award, in 2018 the Expression of Art award and in 2019 the Conservatorium Talent Award.” As impressive as it is, do you consider the term ‘winning’ appropriate, when you think of your approach to music and performing?
“Of course, the term winning feels strange considering music. Every time you go on stage you want to make the most beautiful music possible with your fellow musicians. For these competitions we as a band tried to do the same, make the music we want to make and do not think about the competition aspect of the performance. It is a big honour if a jury of renowned people from the music industry rewards this with a prize, but if not, you still played the music you stand for and will continue to do that. The real winning is when the magical musical moments happen on stage between the musicians, and everything comes together.”

In both cases the Awards came with a certain amount of money, to be used for further development of your talent. Can you explain how you set out your path of development for the next few years?
“The Expression of Art Award offered an amount of money which we used to record our debut album, which will be released soon. It is a huge privilege to have the opportunity to record your own music with your favourite musicians. Apart from that I want to take lessons from people who inspire me and focus more on composing music. Playing your own compositions is a special and rewarding experience. I want to keep playing and exploring with my quartet as well as other projects I play in or want to set up. The awards are of great help, they offer a budget for lessons, recordings and other promotional material and anything you might need to support your career as a musician.”

You have already played with a considerable number of great musicians. Do you have a wishlist of players that you would like to share the stage or the studio with?
“For sure I would like to keep playing with the people I play with at the moment. I am really lucky to have studied with great musicians who also became my friends. Having good and inspiring peers is very important for your development. People are starting to spread out all over the world, so possibilities to play with each other become scarcer. Besides that, there are lots of people I want to play with, both national and international musicians like Han Bennink, Ambrose Akinmusire, Sam Harris, Kit Downes and Craig Weinrib.”

Check out the Mo van der Does Quartet on Thursday 27 June at Foodhallen Rotterdam (Coffee corner). You can visit the festival free of charge!