Tetzepi with Louis Sclavis © Gemma Kessels 2012

Photo © Gemma Kessels

After last year’s review of ‘ECM Artist in Concert‘ for the November Music festival in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, I was surprisingly inspired by writing about my concert experience. I applied for the writers pool of this year’s edition and was invited to review three excellent performances. If one of my reviews convinces anyone to visit a live music concert, I consider it a success. I wrote the original review in Dutch, published on the Concertzender Weblog ‘Jazz Nieuwe Muziek’.



On Friday the 9th of November I had the privilege to listen to contemporary music, by contemporary musicians, for contemporary musicians and with contemporary musicians. Together with Tobias Klein and Fie Schouten, I listened to bigtet Tetzepi completed by yet a third master of the bass clarinet, Louis Sclavis.


For those of you on which my wordplay is lost; Fie Schouten is one of the most virtuoso bass clarinet players from the Netherlands and Tobias Klein is, added to being a bass clarinet virtuoso, one of the composers whose work was performed by Tetzepi and Sclavis. Apart from the question of how one composes for an improvising ensemble – with lots of freedom, I loved hearing the story behind the composition.
The Title ‘1988, Black Dog at Moers’ hints to the jazz festival of Moers where Sclavis played ‘Duguesclin’ in 1988 on which Tobias Klein’s composition was partly based and inspired.


Du Guesclin was a French (Breton) knight and one of his nicknames was ‘black dog’. Sclavis performance made a big impression on Tobias. In his explanation he wrote about the moment on which the audience demanded an encore in 1988, against the instructions of the festival personnel. The experience was so awe-inspiring, it became one of the reasons to start playing the bass clarinet for Tobias. And so it appears that one of Tetzepi’s and Sclavis SEED’s has deeply nested roots, but I’ll get back to that in a bit! In Tobias’ piece he attempts to put the ‘Duguesclin’ material into a different context. Another inspiration is the sound of a hurdy-gurdy, but played a couple of octaves lower by tuba’s and baritone saxophones.


The collaboration with Louis Sclavis was already a long-cherished which of Tetzepi, as read on their website. Sclavis, who doesn’t see himself as a composer but as a supplier of ideas and ‘fragments’, provided the so-called SEED’s for this Tetzepi program. The composers Hans Leeuw, Tobias Klein, Jorrit Dijkstra, Albert van Veenendaal and Lisa Cay Miller were al given one of Sclavis’ snippets for inspiration. SEED’s, the musical cells have formed the basis for Tetzepi’s programs for quite some time.


But to my opinion Tetzepi’s SEED’s haven’t been fragmented seeds for a long time. But rather a beautifully matured, branching and interwoven organism, in full bloom, ‘a force of nature’ with, as mentioned, strong and deeply nested roots.


And that’s what they sounded like, like ‘a force of nature’. Supported and completed by Louis Sclavis, without any chance of being blown away. The tethering play of Sclavis reminded us of Eric Dolphy at some moments. Who’s words will be kept eternally at the end of his album ‘Last Date’: “When you hear music, after it’s over, it’s gone in the air. You can never capture it again.”, which in this case mostly goes for those who missed the concert.

I wish Tetzepi future years of healthy growth, bloom and fruits, hopefully leading to new seeds. I’ve acquired the taste!