jazz and blues news
interviews and articles
jazz gig guide
jazz and blues links
audio files
musicians ads
interview

Vandoorn :: the Guitar and the Voice
by Leonid Auskern and Anatoly Kiryushkin

Vandoorn's latest cd UNCOVERED (Timeless CDSJP 458) with Ineke van Doorn (vocals), Marc van Vugt (guitar) and Paul van Kemenade (alto sax) has been nominated for an Edison Jazz Award. This is the Dutch version of a Grammy Award. More information is available at Vandoorn web site

Jazz-Quad: Was "A Guitar and a Voice" the original idea of the group and the reason why you had met one another or once working together you had got an idea to turn it into "the Guitar and the Voice" i.e. to form the group?

Ineke: Marc and I know each another since a long time. In the beginning of the 80's (we were still in school) we played together in a band which played Brazilian music and Marc's compositions. Later on (around 1993) we started 'Vandoorn'. First it was a quintet with piano, bass, drums, guitar and voice. Later on we decided to work without piano to have more freedom. We have always invited guests on our CD's in order to have a new, adventurous input and to challenge ourselves. With most of the guests (like Kenny Wheeler, Thomas Chapin and Robin Eubanks) we also did concerts. In 1998 we played a couple of concerts in a trio with trumpettist Eric Vloeimans. Without any preparation we went on stage to play a couple of jazz standards. Until then we had mostly been playing original compositions with Marc's music and my lyrics. Playing the jazz standards was just for fun but it turned out so well that we decided to record it. This became the album 'Love is a golden glue'. Because the record company went broke it took quite some time to release this album. The album was released on the Timeless Records label and we received an Edison Award (the Dutch version of the Grammy Award) for it. We decided to invite another guest to present the cd. This time alto player Paul van Kemenade. With him we also started to play original compositions again. Starting with our second cd (President for life) Marc and I regularly played as a duo on stage. For example one or two songs during the evening. Later we were very happy with the freedom we got in the trio and decided to go on with this trio idea. We also perform regularly as a duo and toured in Japan, Canada and Hungary together. So (to be short..) once working together "the guitar and voice" came to life. Our next project might be a duo-CD!

Jazz-Quad: Inviting quest musicians as a new adventure and challenge sounds great. But I think the result is a new experience too. Can you tell about the experience you had got playing with the invited musicians and if it left any influence for your music later?

Marc: It is always an honor to play with great musicians. We like to invite guests that challenge us. We like to create beautiful songs, but in performing them we go for what the moment brings us. So we improvise a lot. That's the second most important thing in our music. We have been lucky to be able to work with some of the best improvisers around. Thomas Chapin was a great experience. For the recording of our cd "President for Life" he flew over after just one phone call and hearing our first cd (the Question is me; featuring trumpettist Kenny Wheeler). That in itself was already quite special. When we started the first recording day with Thomas. He just walked in and we started to work together as if we had done it for years. We would suggest something and he would try that on a tune. In no time he would come up with some of his suggestions that on our turn we would be trying. It was a very intense experience. Trombonist Robin Eubanks first played with us at the North Sea Jazz Festival in 1998. His transport was late so he only arrived 5 minutes before the concerts asking: "do you want to rehearse before we go on stage". Ineke talked him trough the set while we were setting up and we just went for it. It was one of our best concerts at that time. The good thing about these experiences is that they force you to reach deep inside and to go for it, just with what you have. I think that that is what drives us, 'cause it is such a fun just to play and see were you will end up with the music. It is also a risk as we never play on safe this way... but why not, that's jazz for us... On "Love is a Golden Glue" we took that even further as Ineke already explained. Now with "Uncovered" and Paul van Kemenade as a guest it feels as if we have stripped down. It feels as if we are almost naked on stage, nothing to hide behind. We are bringing only ourselves on-stage: Vandoorn uncovered. So yes there is a definite influence of our guests on our music and our music develops under this influence and the ideas that we create from that.

Jazz-Quad Do you play acoustic guitar only? Had you any ideas to try electric guitar?

Marc: I started out on the acoustic guitar. That was my first love. Then for many, many years I played electric guitar. I never turned away from the acoustic though. Since we played the trio setting I started playing mostly acoustic. It creates a special sound in that trio that you don't hear anywhere else in jazz. With the new Vandoorn trio I do use the electric a lot but the sound is almost acoustic....

Jazz-Quad There is a common opinion that jazz vocal sounds well only in English but on "Uncovered" it sounds well in Dutch (even for a Russian ear which is unfamiliar to the language). Is it your first experiment and what is your general opinion about jazz vocal in national languages?

Ineke: Yes this is my first experiment, although I've sung a lot in Dutch before. But that was in a more experimental setting and/or in a theatrical setting. I started to do it as an experiment. Marc and other people had suggested it to me before but I only started to do it after we did an extensive tour in Canada/New York. I felt that people there reacted more direct to the lyrics because they were sung in their language. I felt that there was less in between me and the audience and that the communication was very intense. In the Netherlands the common opinion is also that jazz should be sung in english. I think there is a good reason for that because the timing and the sound of jazz is very much connected with the timing and the sound of the english language, especially of course in the way they speak it in the USA. If you listen to the rhythm of children's play-songs you can hear that it really swings. So I decided that I only could start to sing Dutch lyrics if they sounded good and if they connected really well rhythmically. With a new language you have to find a 'new voice' and that takes some time: I really had to practice a while before it started to sound as 'Me'. The reactions both of the critics and the public are very very enthusiastic and I take it as a compliment that the dutch lyrics sound also good for russian ears! It is hard to give a general opinion about jazz vocal in national languages: I have heard some examples of it. Sometimes I like it, sometimes I don't. If I do like it or not is connected to the two subjects I mentioned before: How is the sound, does it sound naturally, does it sound like the singer is expressing him/herself naturally, and the other subject: What about the rhythm? Is it natural, does it swing (and it can swing in many ways, it doesn't necessarily have to be the old fashioned way of swinging), is there a fluency? And -very important- what do I feel when I listen to it: does the singer transmit emotions, is the music touching me. These are difficult subjects I also often discuss with my students!

Jazz-Quad You played Latin American music (though why Portugal's Brazil but not Dutch Surinam?), your albums' design is with an influence of Japanese culture. Do you think that you perform a world music or rather music based on an musician's individual cultural and spiritual roots than following particular standards in jazz music?

Marc When I was about 17, I started listening to south american music. I have a brother who was a drummer and we were so enthusiastic about that music that soon there was for awhile nothing else that we listened to. Particularly Brazilian music was our favorite. At that time it was also quite a thing to get that music as there was not much available. We wanted to play that music so we copied from the records and tried to get in touch with other musicians that played that music if they would come to the Netherlands. Later we formed a band called Baixim and we would perform original material in the Brazil jazz tradition. This group was quite successful at that time. In the beginning of the 80's this was a reason for Ineke and me to go to Brazil and travel around for a few months. Ever since, even though we don't play that music as much any more, it has been a great influence for us. Yes, it would have made sense to be involved in Dutch Surinam music. Surinam music did use dutch language but it was mostly a Surinam thing. So in a way it was as remote for us as was the brazilian music. Another thing was that we were interested in improvisation and sound. In the brazilian music there has always been a lot of room for improvisation and the cross link towards jazz as done by i.e. Airto Moreira and Flora Purim was a very open sort of improvisation that we really liked. Also there search for certain sounds appealed to us.

The Surinam music at that time was more a "party thing" which was not what we were looking for. At the end of the 80's the interest grew in the netherlands for "the brazilian music as party music". That was the time for us to focus on something else. That's when we started to look for what became Vandoorn.

I don't think about our music as being "this or that". We see ourselves as "lyrical songwriters for whom improvisation is a very important thing". For this we like to keep our options open when we are performing. We like to see where the music takes us and to push it in a certain direction if needed. For this we can use anything, that is the beauty of improvisation. It is not about style. Yes in a way you could say that we perform based upon our individual cultural roots, but we start from a recognizable point: the song which mostly goes back to a tradition be it jazz, brazilian music or some of our european influences as in the song "Ochtend".

Ineke: I think it is really important to try to find your own voice. Your voice is of course connected with the culture and society you live in. It doesn't make much sense to me to try to play or to sing jazz as if you are an American if you are not. Jazz is about communication and jazz music has always adopted influences of other kinds of music. That's what I like about it!

So when I perform I do not try to stick only to the American tradition. I try to be myself and that means that other influences are being mixed while I am singing and improvising. It is just a thing that happens, not a thing which occurs after that i have been thinking about it. But both Marc and I are listening to a lot of very different kinds of music; jazz, pop, worldmusic and much more. These are things you can hear while listening to our music.

Jazz-Quad Do you remember what was the first record you ever purchased? Who were your favorite musicians?

Marc: I think the first record was the the single "Love me do" from the Beatles and the album "Help". Especially the first chords on guitar in "Help": that really blew my mind. So, I grew up with the Beatles, fell in love with brazilian music (Gilberto Gill, Milton Nascimento, Ellis Regina). My guitar heroes where: John Abercrombie, Jeff Beck, Pat Metheny, Bill Frisell. As I started to become a composer Gill Evans and Leonard Bernstein have been some of my favourites. I could go on with this for hours: there is so much great music out there....

Ineke: I started with electronic pop music like Pink Floyd, Kraftwerk (!), Genisis and also french chansons. Later I changed to brazilian fusion like Flora Purim and Airto Moreira.As I studied also classical piano I played a lot of the classical piano repertoire both old and more modern repertoire. My favorite singers are Ella Fitzgerald, Kurt Elling, Richard Bona, Ani de Franco, Joni Mitchell, Bonnie Raitt,Norma Winstone, Bobby McFerrin, Elis Regina and many many more.. I love the guitar playing of Philippe Catherine, Dave Hollands Band, The Eurithmics, Paul Simon and I listen to music influenced by Indian music and Kahwal singing..

Jazz-Quad If you were not musicians what would you be?

Marc: I think I would be a chef, a cook. I love to cook. I can really spent quite some time in doing that. In a way it is much like composing and improvising. You follow a recipe but in working it is nice to start fooling around with the original plan and to see where you will end up......

Ineke: Maybe a photographer, or a writer/journalist. Marc sais that I would probably be a loyer.

published 26.04.2005 2005 jazz news :: home page

related links