The Second Time Around – Four groups from the Netherlands at jazzahead! 2021

31 March 2021

With pride inJazz supported four bands from the Netherlands who were announced for the European Jazz Meeting during jazzahead! in Bremen in April of 2020. Due to COVID-19, the influential jazz music fair was called off last minute. For its 2021 edition from 29 April to 2 May, jazzahead! has an online showcase programme lined up, offering a second chance to the Rembrandt Frerichs Trio, Sun-Mi Hong Quintet, KAMA Kollektiv, and the Guy Salamon Group to present themselves to the jazz world.
Please note: The exact jazzahead! showcase schedule will be published by mid-April.

Exploring, studying, hanging, composing

Recently, we caught up with the four band leaders. We asked them if lockdown and the cancelling of live gigs brought them experiences or insights that stimulated their development as musicians and composers.

Guy Salamon

Guy Salamon: “In a way, yes. During this past year I have been exploring different approaches to writing new music and finding new ways to compose, well, new to me at least. Of course, the limited possibilities of performing live this year became a great challenge in terms of motivation and inspiration, but I’m happy to say I’ve been writing quite a fair amount of new music this year. Some of it was even recorded recently by my band and hopefully will be released soon. I also had more time to spend alone with my instrument, which I enjoy very much as well.”

To Rembrandt Frerichs, the last year proved once again how much the music he writes and performs is meant for live audiences. “It became extra clear that the audience is the ‘fourth band member’, for most of the real magic happens when you improvise on stage, in the live concert setting. I can remember how, just before COVID hit, we were touring the far east and were sharing the live music vibe with 60.000 Taiwanese and 1500 Chinese at Guangzhou Jazz Festival. That is always such a kick! The contrast with today couldn’t be bigger.”

Sun-Mi Hong

Sun-Mi Hong mentions how she has been focusing on next steps for her quintet musically. “I’ve had time to listen to a lot of music. Next to composing however, the most important thing I wanted to keep during this period was the ability to hang with the quintet. Have some nice dinner, sharing inspirations, we even met on Christmas day to feel at HOME. Fortunately the quintet still managed to play five concerts in the Netherlands as part of the second album release tour in this pandemic. Of course I can’t wait to break down the stage with them soon again.”

KAMA Kollektiv’s Kirsi-Marja ‘Kiki’ Harju: “During the first lockdown I started to compose new material for the band and for our second album. At the same time I was learning about music production, with programs like Ableton Live and Max/MSP. At the moment I’m still deepening my knowledge there. I am learning about their live possibilities and how to build a good live-setup for myself, using especially Ableton Live as a new source of inspiration and ideas in composing and songwriting.

KAMA Kollektiv

The band members have involved themselves more in this creative area too. Our bass player Jonathan composed tunes for our second album and is currently diving more and more into effects and extended techniques on the double bass, creating soundscapes. Our drummer Joe has now become so involved and interested in composition and arranging, that he wants to pursue it with a second bachelor study at the Conservatory. Our new pianist, Chaerin Im, is graduating this year from the Conservatorium van Amsterdam and is writing and recording new music with her Chaerin & Horim Quartet. I believe that for each of us, these creative processes and new approaches have supported our development as musicians and composers, and have made us a way to survive this season of not being able to play live.”

New music in Bremen

One year down the road, we can assume the bands will be playing some new material in Bremen. What can they reveal about the music they you have been working on since the live sector closed down?

Sun-Mi always tries to add some new material on gigs. “Pieces that are not on an album yet, or are at an early stage in their development. It’s the best to way to learn the music for us and in turn it inspires my writing. Nothing is concrete yet for the gig in Bremen, but we are always open to explore new material besides the ‘old ones’.”

Rembrandt Frerichs

Rembrandt: “The only thing that is a kind of positive note is that I had more time for composition assignments that had strong deadlines. I could invest some extra time in them. My cello concerto premiered at the end of 2020, which was great! At this moment I’m laying down the last details of the jazz piano concerto that musicians of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra asked me to compose for myself. Hopefully we’ll share that on stage live from this summer on. Some of the themes that I explored for the orchestra I also bring to the Rembrandt Trio. For sure you will hear some of that when we play live.”

Kirsi is quite direct to point out that new music is what we will hear from Karma Kollektiv in Bremen. “We recorded our second album TOIVO in October of 2020 fully analog at Lullabye Factory studio in Amsterdam and we will be playing that new material also in Bremen. The album is set for release in May 2021 through German label BERTHOLD Records. We will release a single and music video in March or beginning of April. TOIVO, which is also the title of one of the tracks, is the Finnish word for hope. The music brings together the confusion of the current international situation with desire for unity and hope, in a musical tapestry. It expresses influences from melancholic Nordic atmospheres and landscapes, minimalism, folk and indie pop, as well as from jazz artists like Mathias Eick.”

Guy thinks that his set list will be a mix of a few new projects that his band has been working on simultaneously. “I recently wrote a one hour long, semi-abstract, fantasy-like children’s story which is basically a sort of spiced up, more colorful, musical version of our current reality as I see it. This was written for a special project commissioned by the BIMHUIS Amsterdam, entitled ‘Close Distance’. In addition, I’ve been writing a collection of personal, more intimate pieces, each piece dedicated to someone else dear to me. We will combine parts from these projects with some pieces from our latest album, Unfollow the Leader.”

You can still read the 2020 articles on the four groups here:
In the spotlights 1: Rembrandt Frerichs
In the spotlights 2: Sun-Mi Hong
In the spotlights 3: Guy Salamon
In the spotlights 4: KAMA Kollektiv

Sites and sounds

BIMHUIS TV has live gigs readily available for streaming of Rembrandt Frerichs Trio with Efraim Trujillo & Teus Nobel, Sun-Mi Hong Quintet and Guy Salamon Group.

Check out the videos from KAMA Kollektiv’s EARsession concert in November 2020 on their Facebook page.

The full Guy Salamon Group @ inJazz concert from 2019:

© header image Clubnight Theater Bremen, jazzahead! 2019 by Nikolai Wolff