Since quite a few years years I’ve been working on and off on a solo repertoire for (primarily) soprano saxophone with a series of concerts and an album in mind. thanks to the W.E.R.F. label this will be happening next week in Bruges. I will be recording live before an actual though limited 150 capacity audience at the beautiful church of Sint Walburga on Oct 6 as part of the AMOK music festival. Next day the recording continues at the chamber music room of the Concertgebouw, no audience present. On Oct 8 I’m doing one more solo concert at Kapel, a new venue in Herentals (near Antwerp and my birth place Turnhout) before heading home to NYC after an inspiring 3 months in Europe. The album, followed by more solo dates, will be out in the fall. Meanwhile, If you’re in Belgium I hope you can be part of one of these two special solo nights, see the calendar for more information and links.
Time to post after a far too long Covid-silence. With difficult times come also opportunities. Having been invited for one single limited capacity date in Europe and forced into a 2 week quarantine before playing that date, one thing seemed to lead to another. Many thanks to the city of Antwerp for putting me up in an artist-in-residence place, giving me all the space and time I needed to step up my solo practice – more about this later- leading into a first solo date at sunrise (6:30 am!) at the intimate Wonderland festival in Gent. Over the next few weeks I was happy to respond to short notice offers to rejoin Tom Barman and my other TaxiWars friends, then Bram De Looze for a duo at Jazz Middelheim 1.5 and a few exciting MiXMONK dates with Bram and Joey Baron. Lots of time off came in handy to assure the release of The Bach Riddles and the release tour are effectively on for January, and to finalize mixing and mastering of the Madonna recording with Marc Copland and the wonderful Goeyvaerts String Trio. This one was inspired by the famous Madonna painting by Fouquet, from the collection of KMSKA (Royal Museum of Fine Arts) in Antwerp were Goeyvaerts and I are among the artists in residence.
Last week Joey Baron, Bram De Looze and Robin Verheyen took 4 days out of their busy schedules to rehearse and record the first album by their co-operative band MiXMONK. The trio came about when Verheyen was commissioned by Bozar in Brussels to do ‘something’ for Monk’s birthday centennial in October 2017 and he and Bram De Looze simultaneously came up with the idea to expand their existing duo by adding Joey Baron.
The one Bozar concert turned into a 10 day club tour by the end of which nobody wanted to stop. The band members point out that MiXMONK is by no means ‘inclined to do so called tributes’ or ‘hommages’ and ‘definitely not into historically correct reconstruction’. According to them they ‘just love Monk and like to play some of his tunes our way’ and ‘have fun mixing them up with a couple of originals of our own’.
The record is slated for release in February 2019, to be followed by European tours in the spring and late fall of the same year.
Last night at the Gent Jazz festival Flemish minister of Culture Sven Gatz presented Robin Verheyen with the Sabam Jazz Award for the ‘Established Artist’ of the year 2018. Euphonium player Nils Van Heertum took the Sabam Jazz Award for ‘Young Talent’.
Sabam, Belgium’s national authors rights organisation, underwrites the annual awards with respectively 10.000 € and 5.000 € in career support.
The jury report notes that Verheyen “… always demonstrates an impressive focus and unique personality in his artistic choices…” and expresses “… appreciation for the development of his international career…”
Next August Robin Verheyen will play a series of 3 concerts presenting him as this years Artist in Residence at the Jazz Middelheim festival in Antwerp. A rare perfomance by TaxiWars, co-led by Robin with singer Tom Barman, frontman of legendary indie band dEUS, will be followed on August 10 by the Verheyen quartet with Marc Copland, Drew Gress and Billy Hart as heard on the new studio album ‘When The Birds Leave’.
On August 12 the recently formed trio MiXMONK with Verheyen and prime piano talent Bram De Looze joining forces with Joey Baron will play in the band’s first major festival performance after a successful club tour. All concerts take place on the festival’s main stage.
Following in the steps of Tigran Hamasyan, Vijay Iyer and Jason Moran, Verheyen is the first Belgian artist to become Artist in Residence at then country’s oldest and most important festival. Among the more than 25 concerts at the festival’s two stages are performances by the Fred Hersch Trio, Archie Shepp, Steve Coleman and Philip Catherine.
It’s been a while since I’ve been able to update this section. Lots of things have happened in the meantime, great tours with TaxiWars, my NY Quartet, the Bach Riddles and many other great projects.
My new record When The Birds Leave will be released on Jan 26 on Universal Records. The album features the great rhythm section of Marc Copland, Drew Gress and Billy Hart. We will be touring Europe from February 22 to March 3. Tour dates can be found in the gigs section.
A new record with TaxiWars is also in the works, expected release in the Fall of 2018.