Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Rob van Bavel Trio - Anniversary

© -  Steven A. Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

“In the beginning - 1984 pianist Rob van Bavel, bassist Marc van Rooij and drummer Hans van Oosterhout formed a jazz trio called 'Fezz' and after many gigs at local venues in Holland they became quite popular. They created their own style, one that was full of energy and dynamism. In the years that followed, their individual careers as musicians developed as rapidly as did the reputation of their trio. All three attended The Rotterdam Conservatory; during these years the trio won many prizes at competitions.

In 1986 Marc won the solo prize at the Middelsee Jazz festival; in 1987 Rob graduated the conservatory with the highest cum laude and won the Wessel Ilcken Prize, the most prestigious Jazz award in The Netherlands. In 1988 the trio won first prize at an international competition earning the title 'European Young Jazz Artists’ at the Leverkusen Jazz festival. Rob went on to win second prize in the final of the International Thelonious Monk Jazz Piano Competition in Washington, DC.

Also in 1988, the trio recorded it first CD - Just For You - and had a successful tour in the Chinese cities of Beijing and Shanghai which included many TV, radio and concert performances.

The trio morphed into the rhythm section for the Rob van Bavel Quintet and Octet and, as a rhythm section, they were also asked to accompany many Dutch and  international Jazz musicians visiting Holland and/or touring Europe including Woody Shaw, Bob Mintzer, Ferdinand Povel, vocalist Deborah Brown, Mike Manieri, Slide Hampton and Peter Guidi.

In 1990, the Rob van Bavel Trio were the recipients of the Edison Award - the Dutch Grammy.

After 10 intensive years together the musicians decided to go their separate ways. … reuniting briefly in 2009 for a concert with trombonist Bert Boeren at the Breda Jazz Festival.

Now on its 30th Anniversary [GKI Music, RVB 2014-01] the Rob van Bavel Trio is back with the same drive and energy, with new songs and arrangements by Rob, played with more experience and appealing to a wider audience.” [Source: insert notes to the CD].

You can locate more information about Rob and his career by visiting his website at

In recent years, my contact with Rob van Bavel has been in his role as the pianist in drummer Eric Ineke’s JazzXpress. In my review of DayBreak subsidiary of Challenge Records, Cruisin’ [DBCHR 74588] the most recent of the JazzXpress CD’s I wrote:

In many ways, the “secret ingredient” or “special sauce” of Eric Ineke JazzXpress is pianist Rob van Bavel. The piano chair plays a pivotal role in a Jazz quintet. It becomes third “voice” with the horns; either in unison or in harmony; either in bass clef or in treble. While it may not be distinctly heard as such, when the piano phrases the lines with the horns, it can provide a bottom or a top and thus make the music sound fuller.

Anniversary affords the listener with an unfettered view of Rob’s talents as a pianist and they are considerable as are those of bassist Marc van Rooij and drummer Hans van Oosterhout [who has also been a mainstay in pianist Karel Boehlee’s trio for many years]. Van Rooji’s playing was new to me but he doesn’t disappoint and comes across as the perfect bass clef accompaniment to van Bavel.

Of the ten tracks that make up the music on Anniversary, five are originals by Rob van Bavel, one is written by his mentor, Rob Madna, another excellent pianist, Rob Madna, two are by Duke Ellington, one is by Bill Evans who were themselves both excellent pianists, and the remaining track is the evergreen Jazz standard, How High The Moon.

Every tune is a prepared arrangement; every tune contains a surprise, be it melodic, harmonic or rhythmic; every tune displays the first rate musicianship of Rob, Marc and Hans, singly or in combination.

Rob provides these brief insights or annotation for each track:

01 - Prelude for Jules, The first of van Bavel’s originals which he notes was “inspired by Scriabin” [with overtones of Bill Evans’ approach to voicing chords]

02 - How High The Moon - “combined with Charlie Parker’s contrafact - Ornithology”

03 - Don’t Get Around Much Anymore - [Duke must be smiling at this interpretation]

04. R.B. The second of van Bavel’s tunes this one named after Dutch trumpet player Ruud Breuls

05. Sweet Model - [More Bill Evans inspired music but this time in an uptempo manner with Rob and Marc playing the line in unison in bass clef.]

06. Mood Indigo - “with the famous Poinciana grove that Vernel Fournier made famous with the Ahmad Jamal Trio”

07. Remembering the Rain - “by Bill Evans and a very appropriate title for Holland”

08. Just a Tune for You - Rob’s dedication for this original simply reads “For Mihan….” [Mihan Hong of the Amsterdam Academy where Rob also teaches]”

09. School Blues - “by Rob Madna and in honor of one of the most inspiring pianists, teachers and colleagues I’ve ever know

10. It’s A Shuffle - “ which previously appeared on our Edison Award winning 1990 CD, The Rob van Bavel Trio” [It’s nice to hear a Jazz CD close with a blues; shades of Wynton Kelly and Red Garland]

Rather than close this feature on the Rob van Bavel’s latest recordings with a series of superlatives urging you to consider it for purchase, I thought you might enjoy viewing the following video and listening to the group’s blistering version of How High The Moon/Ornithology and then decide whether you wished to locate order information on itunes, at cdBaby or via Rob’s website.

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