The First at Last

Jasper Staps, Rembrandt Frerichs

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Original Recording Format: DSD 256
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Jasper Staps and Rembrandt Frerichs celebrate friendship on their first joint album.

In the modern jazz landscape, where innovation and experimentation prevail, the human interaction of jazz sometimes runs the risk of being lost. Saxophonist Jasper Staps and pianist Rembrandt Frerichs are returning the focus to telling a musical story and the pure beauty of jazz on their highly anticipated debut album. After a friendship of twenty-five years and countless joint performances in between their individual projects, they are finally joining forces to treat the world to The First at Last – two seasoned jazz icons playing in quartet with two fresh up-and-comers who have swing running in their blood, making a magnificent album of “simply good jazz”.

The album is a celebration of their deep-rooted friendship and a tribute to the musical movements that have inspired them from a young age. Jasper Staps and Rembrandt Frerichs met years ago at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague and immediately felt a strong connection. While Jasper shaped his career as an arranger, conductor and sideman in jazz orchestras, Rembrandt followed his curiosity and developed into a pianist-composer who performed all over the world, experimenting with different musical genres, from Middle Eastern and Early music to collaborations with classical music orchestras. Although they each went their separate ways, the friendship remained strong and brotherly, always finding each other during small performances in between, playing jazz music. On this album, Staps and Frerichs are joined by young musicians Matheus Nikolaievsky on double bass and Mitchell Damen on drums. The interplay between the experienced jazz veterans and the rhythm section of rookies creates an interesting dynamic within the band. It is a meeting of established names and promising newcomers, resulting in a lively and fresh sound.

Jazz on Historical Instruments – a vintage sound

A remarkable aspect of this album is Rembrandt’s choice to play on a historic 1903 Fortepiano by the top French instrument maker Erard. An instrument that represents a piano sound also heard by Gershwin and the early jazz pianists when they made their jazz…. This historic instrument has a unique character, a somewhat sleeker sound than modern Steinways that are often so harsh that they suppress all the overtones of saxophone and double bass. Staps his saxophone has a very vintage character as well. “I chose the piano because of Jasper’s sound,” says Frerichs. “Jasper has such a beautiful timbre – when he plays you step into a bath of sound. I wanted the same vintage tone, and playing on a first-rate instrument that they might have played on in the fifties – it’s a nod to classical chamber music, historical performance practice, as well as the jazz we listened to as boys.”

The quartet has chosen to record with Just Listen Records, an audiophile label that makes their own recordings, and always do so in a live setting, in a place where the musicians can be in the same room and close to each other, preserving the live energy. They are happy to embrace possible imperfections or bleed in the pursuit of rendering their music as naturally as possible.

Jasper Staps – saxophone
Rembrands Frerichs – piano
Matheus Nikolaievsky – double bass
Mitchell Damen – drums


Please note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
Leaves of Green
Melodie Antique
Well, Ain't that Neat
Time and Again
If I Should Lose You
The Moon Stays Bright
Easy to Love
Ballad for Strayhorn
The Song is You
Leaves of Green (Piano Solo)

Total time: 01:05:20

Additional information





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Original Recording Format

Recording Engineer

Jared Sacks

Release DateNovember 3, 2023

Press reviews

Positive Feedback

When excellent musicians, who have known and performed with each other for decades, come together for a debut album we can expect something very special to happen. And this is what we have here. Jazz in its most subtle, complex, and entrancing best. With Jasper Sachs blowing softly, emotively on his sax, and Rembrandt Frerichs complimenting, sometimes leading, on his delicately voiced 1903 Erard fortepiano, what we get is simply superb jazz at the highest level.

Recording engineer Jared Sacks has once worked his magic to achieve a perfect balance of direct and reflected sound that is alive with energy and detail. As listeners, we are invited to the front row chairs to enjoy music making at the highest level in the best recorded sound available today! Outstanding work by all.

Roots Time

[…] Vijf van de 12 composities zijn van Frerichs, eentje staat op naam van Staps en Frerichs, “Isfahan” is een bekende compositie van Billy Strayhorn en Duke Ellington, het is een stad in Iran, het staat op het album Far East Suite uit 1967. “Time and Again” is van de bekende Nederlandse componist Ruud Bos (1936 – 2023). “Ballad for Strayhorn” is van Gerry Mulligan en de klassiekers “Easy to love” en “The song is you” zijn van respectievelijk Cole Porter en Jerome Kern. Het album opent met het lieflijke “Carice” de gezamenlijke compositie van Staps en Frerichs. Onmiddellijk valt het fluweelzachte geluid op van Jasper, het lijkt sterk op de sound van Paul Desmond die ook altsax speelde en vooral bekend van zijn samenwerking met Dave Brubeck. Frerichs klinkt hier ook heel ingetogen en intiem gelijk de penseelstreken van zijn beroemde naamgenoot. De vergelijking met Paul Desmond komt niet helemaal uit de lucht vallen als we luisteren naar “Melodie Antique”, het eerste dat opvalt is het bekende thema van Take Five van Brubeck, Frerichs begint hiermee en later keert het weer terug, Staps speelt zijn eigen spel, voor zover is het geen imitatie maar een geslaagde vondst, zie ook de titel, humor in de jazz dat kan ik wel waarderen.

“Leaves of Green” wordt twee keer vertolkt op dit album, in de volledige bezetting en als solo van Frerichs. Het is een fraaie ingetogen compositie waarin Staps excelleert met zijn fraaie sound. In “isfahan” benadert Jasper het geluid van saxofonist Johnny Hodges voor wie het stuk oorspronkelijk was geschreven, heel mooi. Heel goed dat er een compositie van Ruud Bos op het album staat, deze componist, arrangeur en pianist is mijn inziens altijd onderschat, geheel ten onrechte zoals dit prachtige “Time and Again“ bewijst. Tot de hoogtepunten op dit album behoort zeker “The moon stays bright when it doesn’t avoid the night” al was het alleen maar om de prachtige titel, maar het zit ook heel ingenieus in elkaar met ruimte voor alle musici, een geslaagde compositie van Rembrandt. Een ander juweeltje is het serene “Ballad for Strayhorn” een terecht eerbetoon voor deze alter ego van Ellington die te vaak in de schaduw van Duke staat. Een uitermate geslaagd album met heerlijke muziek van topmuzikanten !

Music Frames

The album opens with Carice. A half-time composition by Staps & Frerichs in which it is immediately clear that this quartet radiates unity, both solo and accompanying. In addition to classics such as Isfahan (Ellington/Strayhorn), Easy to Love (Porter), Jerome Kern’s The Song is You and Time and Again (Dutch classic Telkens Weer) by Ruud BosFrerichs‘ own work is also included on The First at Last, such as the endearing composition Leaves of Green. With a gospel touch to the work of Keith Jarrett, there is a lovely theme on sax, unison with piano, followed by sophisticated solos, even a 4-on-4 and an improvised out-tro, as we often encountered with The Keith Jarrett Trio with bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette. The composition Melodie Antique (also by Frerichs) has a strong link to Paul Desmond’s Take Five, but here as a waltz, with a tasteful drum solo, interspersed with ghost notes, just like in the coda of The moon Stays Bright, When it doesn’t avoid the night.

All pieces are tightly accompanied by relaxed drum & bass work (smooth solo in If I should lose you) that gives the music a solid foundation. The agility of both the piano and the saxophone playing is wonderful, which move through themes and harmonies with musical naturalness. As the cover of The First at Last suggests, the Jasper Staps / Rembrandt Frerichs Quartet offers you a warm, musical bath. All you have to do is immerse and enjoy!

2 reviews for The First at Last

    The recording and musicians are excellent. However, the music itself just doesn’t “speak” to me.

    One of the tags that comes up on this album is “Smooth Jazz”. Perhaps it is just too smooth for me. I would definitely recommend listening to the sample files.

    I could easily see this as being a 5-star recording to the right listener.

    My ideal Jazz album. Really interesting when I am in the mood for attentive listening. Yet very relaxing when all I want to do is unwind.

    The instruments have been captured superbly. But I must give the drums a special mention in this regard.

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