“The best and most swinging Big Band of the Netherlands” announced a national Dutch newspaper in 2007 following one of the Orchestra’s Concertgebouw’s concerts. This is the band that has definitively put Big Band jazz music back on the map in the Netherlands. Founded in 1996 by Hans Dekker, Frans van Geest and Henk Meutgeert it started out as the New Concert Big Band and for years has been the backbone of the jazz offerings at the Concertgebouw – the only concert hall in the world to have a jazz Big Band alongside a classical orchestra. As a result of their efforts, the orchestra was invited to change its name to the Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw, fulfilling a longstanding wish of the former managing director of the Royal Concertgebouw, Martijn Sanders.
The Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw offers its own take on the American Big Band tradition, considering this to be an important part of its identity, as well as fulfilling its open view on both the present and the future of Big Band Jazz music.
Using a formation based on 17 peerless musicians, The Jazz Orchestra offers exciting music that reaches out to a broad audience. Along with its appearances on the big stages and at various festivals i.e. the North Sea Jazz Festival; the band also excels in smaller settings, offering more intimate performances, seeking and stretching the boundaries of contemporary Big Band music.
This versatile quality makes the Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw unique both within in the Netherlands and abroad. The Jazz Orchestra has a extensive track record of collaborations with world class guest soloists – Kurt Elling, José James, Chick Corea, Branford Marsalis, Oleta Adams, Benny Golson, Christian Scott, Roy Hargrove, Patti Austin, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Georgie Fame – alongside Dutch artists including Caro Emerald, Trijntje Oosterhuis, Berget Lewis, Ruben Hein, Mathilde Santing to name but a few.
Click here for a clip of the band featuring Kurt Elling in the biggest Dutch daily show – De Wereld Draait Door
The Jazz Orchestra has a highly regarded international reputation, presenting innovative Dutch jazz along with a wide range of world class soloists. A world tour that included appearances in Santiago de Chile, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Mexico City and Macau was undertaken in 2010. In addition performances in Jakarta, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Budapest, Brussels, Cape Town, Vienna, Vilnius, Klaipeida, Tokyo, Mishima and Beijing have re-enforced the world class standing of the Band.
November 2016 saw the appointment of Dennis Mackrel (1962) as our chief conductor.
At 20 years old, Mackrel was the youngest Count Basie band drummer ever. His career continued in such bands as The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, The Carla Bley Very Large Band, the Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra, the WDR Big Band and The Dizzy Gillespie All Star Big Band. From sideman, he became a Leader of bands such as the Count Basie Jazz Orchestra and several European orchestras. The charismatic Mackrel knows how best to involve the public as well as how to inspire the musicians.
Rob Horsting (1966) is our Co-Director as well as being responsible for a large number of the The Jazz Orchestra’s arrangements. He is also a key player in our talent development projects.
In addition to directing the The Jazz Orchestra, Horsting is a well-respected and much sought after arranger for numerous orchestras and soloists: from the WDR Big Band and the Dutch Orkest van het Oosten to Toots Thielemans, Roberta Gambarini, Ronald Snijders, Mike del Ferro, Cristina Branco, Deborah Brown, Roy Hargrove, Astrid Seriese, Benjamin Herman,Trijntje Oosterhuis and Chick Corea and many more.
Nominations and Awards
In 1999 the Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw was nominated for the album Festival and in 2010 we received the Edison Jazz&World for our album Blues for the Date. Remarkably this album was also pronounced one of the best ‘large ensemble albums of 2010’ by the authoritative magazine All About Jazz New York. Founder Henk Meutgeert was honoured in 1999 by het North Sea Jazz Festival with the Bird Award. He also was the first Dutch person to receive the Concertgebouw Award (2016).
In 1999 the Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw was nominated for the cd “Festival en” and in 2010 received the Edison Jazz & World award for the CD “Blues for the Date”. The authoritative magazine ‘All About Jazz New York’, acknowledged this album ‘as one of the best large ensemble albums of 2010’. Founder, director and arranger Henk Meutgeert received the Bird Award by the North Sea Jazz Festival in 1999 and was the first Dutch person to receive the Concertgebouw Award (2016).
From 2016, The Jazz Orchestra started touring the Dutch pop stages. The appearance of the legendary Hammond B3 artist Dr. Lonnie Smith proved to be so successful that it has become a regular part of The Jazz Orchestra’s repertoire. The Band also combines jazz with funk, soul and rhythm & blues in swirling, swinging shows fronted by singers such as Madeline Bell, Berget Lewis, Shirma Rouse and Pink Oculus.
To hear (and see) more click on the links:
- Show in TivoliVredenburg venue, feat. Dr. Lonnie Smith
- Mini-docunentary about the vinyl release I didn’t know what time it was
In Hotel Arena’s beautiful chapel, we have found The Jazz Orchestra’s new home and also established a laboratory highlighting music produced by the Band’s musicians. All members of The Jazz Orchestra are not only outstanding players but also accomplished composers and arrangers in their own right.
At the Jazz Factory we offer you the opportunity to witness the creative process as we develop our new music.
Each concert in the Jazz Factory has a special theme, which is combined with pungent interviews with the musicians and in the texts of young writers, poets and publicists. Host of the Jazz Factory sessions is performer Lucas De Man – Presenter of the television show Kunstuur and the Artistic Leader of theatre collective Nieuwe Helden. In his interviews he brings across the inspiration, blood, sweat and tears involved in the work of musicians and others artists involved.
For a taste of the Jazz Factory: click here,
Jazz Factory is onderdeel van de creatieve samenwerking tussen Stichting Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw, Lucas De Man/Stichting Nieuwe Helden en Hotel Arena.
Together with a number of organizational experts, The Jazz Orchestra offers workshops on team building, communication and collaboration between board and management. These workshops are tailored to the exact theme your organisation wants to address and always involves the band – either as a whole or with some of our musicians.
A combination of any number of themes is possible, including a wrap up exchange with our musicians and director and a swinging performance of The Jazz Orchestra of Concertgebouw.
Musicians – Connecting through jazz
Every year for the past 20 years or more, we have welcomed some 35,000 visitors to our concerts. In both large and small settings, we have connected dozens of arrangers and soloists and tens of thousands of visitors to our band.
At every performance we – all 17 of us – aim to move you, sometimes with ‘golden oldies’, sometimes with an experimental piece, but always from the heart.
The Jazz Orchestra is drawn from a selection of the best jazz musicians in the Netherlands, each of them outstanding soloists, improvisers as well as ensemble players. In addition to being active as composers and arrangers, most of our musicians have careers of their own, nationally and internationally. Some are part of the latest generation of leading composers or specialise in older jazz styles or combine playing in The Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw with teaching major subjects at one of the Dutch music conservatoires.