The Duke Book: The Music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn (2019)

Ellington, Verploegen, van Hulten, Mills, Strayhorn, Kurtz, Tizol, Mercer

Angelo Verploegen, Jasper van Hulten

Angelo Verploegen dazzled NativeDSD listeners last year with his Jazz trio and their Just Listen release The Sweetest Sound. With The Duke Book, he teams with drummer Jasper van Hulten to perform standards from the Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn catalogs. Rather than the familiar full ensemble or full orchestra performance of these tracks, this is simply the horn player and the drummer. It is a memorable journey and these two fine Jazz musicians put their own stamp on some very familiar and popular compositions.

And now we have The Duke Book.  Be sure to have a look at the rave reviews of this album in the Reviews Tab - and then pick up a copy in DSD Stereo and DSD Multichannel (or both)!

A personal note on The Duke Book

The Duke Book is about melody and rhythm, about sound and time, about exploring the music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn in all kind of ways alongside exploring the sonorities of our instruments. Playing in numerous drum-less bands for some time now, I felt more and more the urge to investigate the possibilities of combining melody with only rhythm. And what better repertoire to do this with than Duke Ellington’s?

Ellington set the standard for melody, form, rhythm in the jazz idiom. So when I was given the opportunity by label manager Jonas Sacks to make a new recording for Just Listen I grabbed it with both hands and invited Jasper van Hulten to join me on this musical journey. Somehow Jasper’s musical intuition and incredible sensitivity fit my playing like a glove. His open mind, inventiveness and great dynamics make him a perfect match for this adventure.

This is the second collaboration with the outstanding Just Listen crew. My first encounter with their particular pure ‘eco’ way of recording was with my musical soulmates guitarist Ed Verhoeff and bassist Eric van der Westen doing the award-winning album The Sweetest Sound (JL009 Album Page). No sound-equalizing, no mixing, no compressing, no editing applied here. Just the musicians in a beautiful medium-large concert hall, the best possible technical equipment and a great set of ears of producer/engineer Jared Sacks.

-Angelo Verploegen

Producer's Note from Jared Sacks

Flugelhorn and Drums…. A whole album? Both of you will have to be VERY good to keep the listener’s attention for the duration of a complete album. And yes, it is all very good. These boys needed no producing on my part. Setting up the microphones was also easy. A great space to play, two very musical minded players. I only needed to press record!

- Jared Sacks

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Angelo Verploegen

Angelo Verploegen was born on December 22, 1961 in Oss. It all starts in this small town in the south of the Netherlands, when he joins the local brassband playing the flugelhorn at the age of 11. A few years later he gets so excited about Big Band Oss that he switches to trumpet to be able to join them.

In 1980 Angelo moves to Amsterdam to study musicology at the Amsterdam University and trumpet at the Jazz Department of the Amsterdam Sweelinck Conservatory. The extremely vivid and divers Amsterdam music scene is a true walhalla for a young, curious and eager trumpeter. In these roaring 80’s Verploegen plays salsa with Ruben Salas, Evolution 2000, Salsa d’Amsterdam, big band with Maiden Voyage and the Frank Grasso Big Band, gets involved with the theatre (Haagse Comedie, later on with Orkater, ZT Hollandia, de Veenfabriek), plays lead- trumpet in the musical Cats and gets acquainted with the improv scene, working with Jaap Blonk, Micheal Moore, Larry Fishkind and many more.

In 1986 Angelo starts playing with guitarist/composer/bandleader Corrie van Binsbergen. Her musical versatility and pursuance are of great influence on Verploegen’s approach and further development. In ’87 producer Gert-Jan Blom asks him to put together a jazz band as part of the traveling music and theatre festival Boulevard of Broken Dreams: sextet The Houdini’s is born to live a long and fruitful life. The unheard-of collective hyper-energetic chemistry of these six youngsters makes them tour through Europe, the USA, Canada, and Australia, record numerous CD’s (two of them by the legendary Rudy Van Gelder) and perform/record with Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Asko/Scho?nberg Ensemble, John Adams, Louis Andriessen, JacobTV, Trijntje Oosterhuis.

After 10 years of running The Houdini’s, Angelo is ready for a change. In ’97 he challenges himself by playing trio with just bass and drums: the critically acclaimed trio Toi?s releases two cd’s, provides music for dance company Blok & Steel and for the Dutch movie Wilde Mossels. At the same time he starts producing recordings for Challenge/A-Records and initiates the sublabel BUZZ Records for new music. In that capacity he works with Denise Jannah, Benjamin Herman, Leny Andrade, Lisa Michel, Maarten van der Grinten & Jesse van Ruller, Wolfert Brederode-Eric Ineke Quintet, Kenny Wheeler with the UMO Jazz Orchestra, Misha Mengelberg, Nimbus with Dave Liebman, Sven Ratzke and many others.

A few years later he forms the Amsterdam Jazz Trio with guitarist Ed Verhoeff and bassist Eric van der Westen. With this intimate chamber-jazz configuration Verploegen finds his way back to the lyrical flugelhorn. All in all a sweet return. Focusing on the flugelhorn again feels like a homecoming. Other ‘flugelhorn-groups’ will follow: Soo Cho Quartet, Marc Scholten’s The Blindfold Test, Paul van Kemenade’s Three Horns and a Bass, trio with Japanese pianist Atsuko Kohashi and Dutch bassist Tony Overwater, trio with Curacao singer Izaline Calister and again guitarist Ed Verhoeff.

In 2001 Verploegen begins his teaching career at the Jazz & Pop department of ArtEZ Conservatory Arnhem and the Utrecht Conservatory HKU. Around this time time he starts touring and recording with Michiel Braam’s Bik Bent Braam. In 2005 the Amsterdam Bimhuis grants him a carte blanche. For this occasion he invites Japanese trumpet-piano duo Natsuki Tamura en Satoko Fujii together with Dutch pianist Misha Mengelberg to team up as a free improv double-duo and he introduces his new quartet Executive Lounge. In 2006 he joins Egon Kracht & The Troupe for many (semi-theatrical) music productions to follow.

Angelo Verploegen’s The Ballad Album is released in 2011 and nominated for an Edison Award. Besides all of his small-group work as a flugelhorn player, Angelo is also a much in demand section- and solo-trumpeter to be heard with Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw, David Kweksilber Big Band, New Rotterdam Jazz Orchestra, Metropole Orchestra as up to this date.


Jasper van Hulten

Jasper van Hulten, born in 1981 in Breda, the Netherlands, grew up in a family where music was all around. His father was always singing and playing French ‘chansons’ on the guitar, and his mother sang classical choirmusic and played the piano. Jasper developed a strong hearing from an early age and would be beating on everything he could find. After trying different instruments at the local music school, and the advice to play the violin, he intuitively chose for the drums as his ‘voice’, and started taking drumlessons at the local music school at the age of six. Ten years later he got admitted to the Rotterdam conservatory, where he graduates in 2002. During his music studies he develops as an all-round musician, playing in many different formations and various musical styles such as jazz, pop, fusion and latin-american. In his final year (2002 he joins some of his friends in a new group: The Young Sinatra’s, which gave him the opportunity to play at numerous jazzfestivals in the Netherlands and Europe, including the North Sea jazz festival. In the years after, he would play and record albums with many other artists and bands like Sensual, Ad Colen, Soo Cho, Angelo Verploegen, Tutu Puoane and Anne Chris. In 2005, Jasper joins singer-songwriter Wouter Hamel’s band. After winning the Dutch Jazz Vocalist- prize that year they record their first album ‘Hamel’. The song ‘Breezy’ turned into a radio-hit, the album got the golden status for 15.000 copies sold in the Netherlands. It also got picked up by a Japanese label, which granted them yearly Asian tours ever since, mainly in Japan and South-Korea, but also in China and Indonesia. Their second album ‘Nobody’s Tune’, even got a platinum status, for 60.000 albums sold in the Netherlands. Now, their sixth album ‘Boystown’ was just released. In 2006, trumpetplayer Eric Vloeimans’ formed his electric impro-group Gatecrash. They have recorded three albums, won an Edison award and played concerts in The Netherlands, United States, China, Japan, South-Korea, Australia and South-Africa. After some years of silence, the band is now working on their fourth album and a tour is coming up in 2020. Besides this, Jasper is playing with Portugese singer Maria Mendes. They have just finished recording their third album, produced by Grammy-award winning producer John Beasley. Also, Jasper plays in pianist Wolfert Brederode’s trio. They have recorded the Album ‘Black Ice’ in 2016 for the renowned label ECM, produced by the legendary Manfred Eicher. Furthermore, Jasper has played with many great artists like Bert van den Brink, Harmen Fraanje, Michiel Borstlap, Jeroen van Vliet, Cor Bakker, Rob van Bavel, Hein van de Geyn, Peter Tiehuis, Karel Boehlee, Theo de Jong, Paul Berner, Ed Verhoeff, Benjamin Herman, Anton Goudsmit, Ilja Reijngoud, Fay Claassen, Jesse van Ruller, Kyteman, Gino Vannelli, Wende Snijders, Deborah Carter, Martin Verdonk, amongst many others. Today, Jasper is a very active and versatile musician, always looking for new ways to approach music and his instrument. His goal is to serve the music with open ears, and to blend in with the right sound and feel.

About this album "The Duke Book" he writes: “I have definitely enjoyed recording this album with great trumpetplayer and friend Angelo Verploegen, for the space, input, interaction and creativity it requires to play in duo. It was recorded in such beautiful conditions, both acoustically and technically. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we did recording it!”

photo: from booklet 'The Duke Book' JL019

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The Duke Book: The Music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn (2019)

Ellington, Verploegen, van Hulten, Mills, Strayhorn, Kurtz, Tizol, Mercer

Angelo Verploegen, Jasper van Hulten

    Jazz Tokyo: "They got me!"

Surprisingly a great joy when you hear the unexpected sound on the well known standard numbers, with ohhing and ahhing over it. Have you had such experience before? This album just arriving from Netherland is definitely the one-The Duke Book played by Angelo Verploegen (flugelhorn) & Jasper van Hulten(drums) , which contains all Ellington numbers. As for the duo of trumpet and drum, you would remember “mu suits (’69/BYG)” and “El Corazon (’82/ECM1230)” / Don Cherry (trumpet) –& Ed Blackwell(drums), capturing the sound of the ancient earth with free style. Contrary to it, on this Album “The Duke Book,” there were two “sounds” seeking a deep world with each other, as yet not free style. Angelo plays Flugelhorn carefully as if he examines the value of each note, while Jasper freely fills in. There is no feeling of the original “swing feeling” here, but there is a unique rhythm consciousness rooted on the European jazz- space and quietness. It's great to see the two musicians’ dedication and contribution to Duke Ellington while finding their unique way on Duke’s songs, which seems, to me, reciprocation for Duke’s contribution. It’s very personal thing, but I would like to note here. When I was sick in bed at the end of March (not Corona, though), I was prescribed antibiotic and at the same time I was introduced to this album. Of course, the medicine worked, but more than that, I really appreciate the music coming from “Duke Book” which could ease my pain. Every time when I hear their music, I’m grateful for their dignified sounds; Music is the best medicine. I’m looking forward to their next album!

Atsuko Kohashi[read full review]

    NativeDSD Blog

Jazz performance is sometimes compared to a tightrope walk. A dialogue between a horn player and a percussionist, with no piano, guitar or bass to provide the harmonic foundation, is like a tightrope walk without a net. On their recent album “The Duke Book”, a set of duo performances of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn compositions, flugelhorn player Angelo Verploegen and drummer Jasper van Hulten make the risk-taking seem effortless. The selection of tunes, from the well-known classics “Satin Doll”, “Caravan”, and “Take the “A” Train” to the lesser-known “Blues in Blueprint” and “Smada” from the 1962 Columbia Records album (and audiophile favorite) “Blues in Orbit”, provides a framework for new arrangements and plenty of room for individual expression. The absence of a piano gives percussionist van Hulten plenty of space to play in an orchestral style and explore the palette of percussive tone colors. Small details like the delicate brushwork that opens “Blues in Blueprint”, the Cuban dance rhythm in “Satin Doll”, and the floor toms played like kettle drums in “Come Sunday”, draw the listener into the intimate musical setting. Ellington/Tizol’s “Caravan” is recast by Verploegen in a subtle arrangement that delays the appearance of the original theme until nearly the end of the performance. It’s a bravura choice that a less experienced musician wouldn’t have risked. Verploegen plays a flugelhorn made by the Dutch instrument designer Hub van Laar, whose instruments are used by the Dutch trumpet virtuoso Eric Vloeimans. The flugelhorn is pitched in the same key as the trumpet, but possesses a deeper timbre and rounder tone that Verploegen explores in the lyrical passages of “Come Sunday” and “A Flower is a Lovesome Thing”. Though he’s playing from the Ellington book, Verploegen avoids emulating the characteristic riffs and clichés of Duke’s trumpet soloists. Like many players who came of age in the 1980s, a time when free jazz had retreated to the margins and the “Young Lions” had reintroduced earlier jazz currents into the neo-bop repertoire, Verploegen synthesizes a range of stylistic influences. He improvises with great confidence and dexterity, easily meeting the challenge of tracking the chord changes without a backing instrument. If you’re familiar with the pieces, you can “hear” the implied chords beneath Verploegen’s and van Hulten’s solo phrases and duo interplay. Engineer Jared Sacks’s recording played in Stereo DSD 512 positions the two players in the sumptuous reverberant acoustic of MCO, Hilversum. “The Duke Book” is a delight for audiophiles and highly recommended for all jazz lovers.

Mark Werlin[read full review]

    Jazzenzo Jazz Magazine

The Duke Book features the repertoire of Duke Ellington performed with just Flugelhorn and Drums. Trumpet player Angelo Verploegen and percussionist Jasper van Hulten took the risk and the result can certainly be called astonishing. The duo chose well-known and less well-known works that Ellington often wrote with Billy Strayhorn. The album includes 'Take The A Train', 'Satin Doll', 'Caravan', 'In A Sentimental Mood', 'It Don't Mean A Thing', but also 'Smada' and 'Blues In Blueprint', the album opener in which Verploegen and Van Hulten explore each other's options. Improvisation and playful subtlety form the common thread. There are certainly points of recognition, but the free interpretation that both give to the pieces is incorrigible and unique because of the instruments. Here and there Verploegen omits pieces from the actual melody or does he choose free timing? Van Hulten's drums are melodic and free, creating wide dialogues that constantly retain the tension. Verploegen shows himself to be a master of his instrument. The persistent high tone in the intro of 'Take The A Train' continues throughout the piece while the original swing is retained. We hear another original opener in one of the five interludes that the album has, short improvisations that tie in with Ellington in which Verploegen's flugelhorn growls and strokes. The velvety maneuverability that Verploegen displays combined with the great ingenuity of Van Hulten lifts the interaction between the two to a high level with inexhaustible possibilities. These are ingredients that require a stage performance. A tour is therefore in the making.

Erno Elsinga[read full review]


"Now together in The Duke Book. An intuitive combination, in which feeling, openness, daring and respect for each other provide the Ellington compositions with new perspectives. (...) The Duke Book by Angelo Verploegen and Jasper van Hulten is of great importance for Dutch jazz. In this micro-constellation, no one can better and more honestly interpret the heritage of Duke Ellington than they do. What an achievement again. (...) The music conducts a dialogue with The Duke, in which it is constantly scanned to see whether the vision of the two contemporary performers fits within the framework of the great composer. That he would not doubt this for a moment will be confirmed by everyone who takes note of this beautiful album."

Rinus van der Heijden [read full review]

The Duke Book: The Music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn (2019)

Ellington, Verploegen, van Hulten, Mills, Strayhorn, Kurtz, Tizol, Mercer

Angelo Verploegen, Jasper van Hulten

Cables: Van den Hul
Digital Converters: Horus, Merging Technologies
Mastering Engineer: Jared Sacks
Microphones: Bruel&Kjaer 4006, Schoeps, AKG
Mixing Board: Rens Heijnis, custom design
Producer: Jared Sacks, Jonas Sacks
Recording Engineer: Jared Sacks
Recording location: MCO Hilversum, the Netherlands: April 2019
Recording Software: Pyramix, Merging Technologies
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD 256
Speakers: Grimm LS1

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Album Download duration price
JL019: The Duke Book: The Music of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn
00:52:48   Select quality & channels above
Blues In Blueprint
00:04:28   N/A
Satin Doll
00:05:05   N/A
Come Sunday
00:05:26   N/A
Interlude I - Bounce
Verploegen,van Hulten
00:00:46   N/A
00:04:45   N/A
Interlude II - Humming
Verploegen,van Hulten
00:01:05   N/A
A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing
00:04:51   N/A
Take The "A" Train
00:05:44   N/A
Interlude III - Curls
Verploegen,van Hulten
00:00:45   N/A
In A Sentimental Mood
00:05:21   N/A
Interlude IV - Hush
Verploegen,van Hulten
00:00:57   N/A
00:04:34   N/A
It Don't Mean A Thing
00:03:37   N/A
Interlude V - Last Call
Verploegen,van Hulten
00:00:44   N/A
Sophisticated Lady
00:04:40   N/A

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