Sonatala (2004)

Fraanje, Veras

Harmen Fraanje Quartet

The Harmen Fraanje Quartet was founded in the summer of 2002. Hein Van de Geyn invited the musicians to his theater where they spent an extraordinary week together. The music of Harmen found a miraculous medium in this group.

The phenomenal brazilian guitarist Nelson Veras was able to add just that magic colour to the already sparkling sound of the piano trio. Nelson Veras, who already as a teenager toured with people like Pat Metheny, Aldo Romano, Gary Peacock, Michel Petrucciani, grew into one of the most promising guitarists in the world. His fabulous technique and effortless musicality are truly amazing.

Hein Van de Geyn is a well known and seasoned bassist. His 20 year long experience give him the ability to push the group from his place in the back to extraordinary heights.His flexibility and sense of improvisation give a special colour to the group. Drummer Matthieu Chazarenc is at this point one of the young lions of the Paris Jazz scene that is most in demand. He only arrived on the scene a few years ago. His intense polyrhythmical way of playing is an exciting factor within the sound of the band.

The music of this extraordinary quartet has a power and simplicity that hits the listener in a very direct way. Within the refreshing, clear compositions breathtaking improvisation takes place. All compositions are from harmen Fraanje, except track 11 by Nelson Veras.

As one of the most promising upcoming quartets Challenge Jazz wanted to fully support the beautiful sound of the band with the best quality format. Challenge therefore decided to record and release this album as a hybrid surround SACD only (not on Stereo CD) and later on as a Multichannel DSD and a Stereo DSD Download.

"I find this record very interesting. The compositions are very fresh, there is a melodic mood. Very well played !"
-- Toots Thielemans

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Harmen Fraanje Quartet

According to the internationally acclaimed website AllAboutJazz “Harmen Fraanje is emerging as one of the most impressive young European pianists of the past decade.”

The same website selected a performance by this trio with Clemens van der Feen and Flin van Hemmen as one of their favorite concerts of 2010. Pianist and composer Harmen Fraanje was born in Roosendaal, The Netherlands in 1976. As a teenager he found a lot of inspiration during his weekly meetings with his piano teacher Frank Jansen, his art teacher Frans Stohr and blues guitarist Ralph de Jongh. During his study Piano Jazz and Improvised Music at the conservatories of Tilburg and Utrecht (teachers Willem Kühne and Bert van den Brink) Harmen was recognized as being a versatile pianist by musicians like trumpeter Eric Vloeimans and saxophonist Mete Erker, who both asked Harmen to join their groups.

Around this time bassplayer Hein van de Geyn offered Harmen to release an album for his label Challenge Jazz. Harmen recorded his debut album Sonatala with Brazilian guitarist Nelson Veras, French drummer Matthieu Chazarenc and bassist Hein van de Geyn. The album was presented during a concert at the North Sea Jazz Festival in 2004. In 2006 they recorded the album ’Ronja’ with French flute player Malik Mezzadri.

Momentarily Harmen is very active and continuously on the road to perform with projects that he leads or co-leads. Besides that Harmen is regularly asked as a sideman and guest. He performs frequently with trio Reijseger Fraanje Sylla, with cellist Ernst Reijseger and Senegalese vocalist and percussionist Mola Sylla. The trio recorded two trio albums for the German label Winter and Winter: ’Down Deep’ and ‘Count till Zen’. Both albums captured worldwide attention and got very positive reviews. Further the trio recorded and composed music for several movies by Werner Herzog, Roberto Zazzara and Martijn Maria Smits.

For more than 10 years Harmen has been playing in a trio with French musicians Toma Gouband (stones, drums, percussion) and Brice Soniano (bass). This group recorded two albums for the French label Cristal Records. And in may 2015 the trio released the album ‘Shades of Blue’ using their own platform/label Astropπ. For some years the trio is finding inspiration in investigating numbers and proportions. The trio also invited guests such as Guilhem Verger, Malik Mezzadri, Michael Moore, Juan Parra and Fredrik Ljungkvist.

Harmen has had his trio with Clemens van der Feen on bass and Flin van Hemmen on drums. They recorded the album ‘Avalonia’ for Challenge Records. The trio performed also in quartet with American saxophonist Tony Malaby. For some years now Harmen and guitarist Anton Goudsmit co-lead a quartet with German bass clarinet player Rudi Mahall and drummer Samuel Rohrer from Switzerland. Further there is a collaboration with Martijn Vink (drums) and guitarist Reinier Baas.

As a sideman Harmen performs with the Michael Moore quartet. This group with Michael Vatcher (drums) and Clemens van der Feen (bass) recorded 3 cd’s, all released by Michael Moore’s label Ramboy Records. In 2014 the quartet toured the in USA, also visiting Moore’s hometown Eureka.

Harmen is member of two groups of the Norwegian bassplayer Mats Eilertsen. The Mats Eilertsen trio with drummer Thomas Strønen recorded two albums for the Norwegian label Hubro. Mats also started a larger ensemble ‘Rubicon’ with saxophonists Trygve Seim & Eirik Hegdal, Rob Waring on vibraphone, guitarist Thomas T Dahl and Finnish drummer Olavi Louhivuori.

Harmen is also sideman in the Clemens van der Feen quartet and guest with the Pit Dahm trio.

Harmen is in the faculty of the Conservatory of Amsterdam and he’s frequently invited to give masterclasses and workshops at other conservatories.

Classical music, Jazz, improvised music have had a big influence on Harmen’s music and compositions. Nowadays he as well loves listening to traditional music from anywhere. His current favorites are recordings of Shona music from Rhodesia/Zimbabwe (Hakurotwi Mude), Mbenzele Pygmy music from Republic Central Africa and accordeon music of the Masikoro Country in Madagascar.

Harmen currently lives in Amsterdam, Netherlands.



Harmen performed/recorded with:

Mark Turner, Malik Mezzadri, Kenny Wheeler, Nelson Veras, Michael Moore, Philip Catherine, Hein van de Geyn, Mats Eilertsen,Toma Gouband, Cristina Branco, Brice Soniano, Stéphane Galland, Tony Malaby, Rick Margitza, Reggie Washington, Ambrose Akinmusire, Theo Bleckmann, John Ruocco, Han Bennink, Anton Goudsmit, Ernst Reijseger, Bert Joris, Jimmy Haslip, Jesse van Ruller, Flin van Hemmen, Clemens van der Feen, Enrico Rava, John Engels, Nils Ostendorf, Toots Thielemans, Dré Pallemaerts, Michael Vatcher, Charlie Dee, Joachim Badenhorst, Thomas Morgan, Martijn Vink, Olivier Steidle, Nils Wogram, Fredrik Ljungkvist, Alan ‘Gunga’ Purves, Mola Sylla, Luciano Biondini, Dick Oats, Igor Roma, Trygve Seim, Eirik Hegdal, Concordu e Tenore de Orosei, Werner Herzog, Samuel Rohrer, Rudi Mahall, Louis Moholo, Eyvind Kang, Ben van Gelder, Bert Cools, Reinier Baas, Matiss Cudars, Groove Lélé from Reunion Islands, Jasper Stadhouders, Onno Govaert, Tristan Renfrow, Rónán Ó Snodaigh, Ferenc Kovács, Kálmán Balogh, Per Oddvar Johansen, Trio Mediaeval

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Sonatala (2004)

Fraanje, Veras

Harmen Fraanje Quartet

    Toots Thielemans

I find this record very interesting. The compositions are very fresh, there is a melodic mood. Very well played !

Toots Thielemans

    Audiophile Audition -

Harmen Fraanje is a Dutch pianist on the international jazz scene. But as with so many Dutch musicians he is open to every sort of music – in his case this includes classical, improvisation, Pygmy music, Duke Ellington – you name it. In 2006 he received the Bird Award from the North Sea Jazz Festival. He is half of a classical piano duo and also performs as a trio with an avant-garde cellist and a Senegalese singer/percussionist. Guitarist Veras was born in Brazil and freelances in the Paris area. He has performed with Pat Metheny and Bereli Legrene among others. This is quite a different-sounding quartet from the typical one featuring guitar and piano. There is more of a European classical music influence – especially in the lovely title tune and in the mostly guitar-solo Intermezzo. The tune of Paris Song has stayed with me for a day now. All of the dozen compositions are originals of Harmen’s. Some sound like part of a score for a thoughtful European movie. Then there are the surprise jumps into uptempo post-bop swing, as in Mokka and Bungee. Sonics are very clean and well-spaced-out, as with all Challenge Jazz DSD releases. This is a jazz experience that doesn’t shout, it just is.

John Henry[read full review]

    SA-CD.Net -

They do things differently in Holland. (Although I’m no expert, I’ve never been there.) For starters, the “Harmen Fraanje Quartet featuring Nelson Veras” consists of four players. The quartet includes (and “features”) Nelson Veras rather than being an existing jazz quartet with a guest player. Also, apart from names and acknowledgments on the cover sheet, there are exactly nineteen words of text – someone else saying that they like this music. This is hardly helpful if you are in a shop and trying to figure out whether to buy this or not. Anyway, I wasn’t in a shop I bought it online. In fact, I cannot quite remember why I bought this disk, it was either because I was intrigued by the title – I thought it might be jazz based on a classical form, or it was because I could download short clips of some of the tracks and get a feel for the music. The later is just as well as the listed websites have precious little information about the group or recording either. Sonatala is a disk of a traditional jazz trio with an added guitarist – the “featured” Nelson Veras. The combination is very pleasant to listen to with the Jazz trio offsetting the guitar very well – why hasn’t this been done more often before? All too often great guitarists seem to play solo which is fine for one or two tracks but can be a bit of an earful for a whole disk – even with really great players. Musically I rate both the composition and playing very highly. The styles vary enormously, at times there seems to be very careful composition such as in track 1, Sonatala, and yes it does have classical elements. At other times the composition seems more modern jazz and spontaneous with a little classical background. I would guess a few of the tracks were simply improvised in the studio. In many of the tracks, the piano and guitar are to the forefront with backing by the bass and drums. However, track 4, Mokka sets the bass and drums free for a good blast of the lower registers. Very enjoyable music, I would like to hear more recordings from the Harmen Fraanje quartet. Finally the sound… BRAVO! A paradigm of clarity. Although recorded in 2003, this disk sets standards that other labels would do well to emulate. They may do things differently in Holland bit in this case, it has been done very well. If you like jazz this is a showcase DSD release.

Matthew Strack[read full review]

Sonatala (2004)

Fraanje, Veras

Harmen Fraanje Quartet

Mastering Engineer: Chris Weeda
Producer: Hein Van de Geyn
Production Coordinator: Anne-Marie Jansen
Recording Engineer: Chris Weeda
Recording Location: Studio LeRoy, Amsterdam on February 10 and 11, 2003.
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD

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