Everywhere from Vancouver to Istanbul

Culled from 2009 concert recordings featuring high-profile guest artists, Quartet commemorates the 20th anniversary of the estimable Trio BraamDeJoodeVatcher. Formed by Dutch pianist Michiel Braam in 1989 with bassist Wilbert de Joode and American expatriate drummer Michael Vatcher, the trio embodies the eclectic taste and mercurial sensibility of New Dutch Swing. Scene veterans, they have explored a wide range of territory over the past two decades, their often quirky choices best exemplified by their crafty cover of Ken Nordine's 1967 "Word Jazz" classic Colors (Philips), released on Braam's BBB imprint in 2002.


No strangers to collaboration, the trio has been joined by invited guests in the past, but rarely with the frequency suggested by Quartet. Featuring pieces recorded everywhere from Vancouver to Istanbul in a mere six months, this double disc set encapsulates their aesthetic range, balancing thorny free improvisations with nostalgic swing, vigorous funk and opulent balladry. Using tunes collected in Braam's Q-book, which contains pre-written melodies with fully notated chord changes and tempo markings (available from Braam as a PDF),  the outcome is largely determined by the inclinations of the guest artists, who were invited to rehearse and perform or spontaneously improvise as deemed fit. Paul Dunmall's serpentine bagpipe screeds on the closing "Q41" are indicative of the later approach, unveiling the date's most extreme sounds. The others – Mats Gustafson, Taylor Ho Bynum, François Houle, Michael Moore and Peter van Bergen – approach the material in direct, albeit different ways.


Moore's four performances are among the collection's most compelling and naturalistic. His supple clarinet cadences soar with buoyant lyricism, perfectly complementing the trio's vivacious old fashioned swing. Bynum's musings on cornet and trumpbone veer from wraithlike mutterings to clarion trills, offering a glimpse of the ensemble at their most abstract, while van Bergen's sinuous testimonials expound with primal fury on "Q01," where his ribald tenor observes the tune's directive to play "Bluesy, Dirty!" Houle's clarinet and Gustafson's baritone infuse "Q51" with a blustery ardor that approaches Dunmall's caterwauling intensity on "Q41."


Though most of the sixteen tracks feature an invited guest, the remaining half dozen cuts spotlight the trio alone. Braam's probing filigrees, de Joode's pneumatic pizzicato and Vatcher's piston-like accents exude the pithy democratic interdependence of the best small combos. While exceptional on their own, augmented by a stellar international cast, the trio's Quartet is an anniversary collection as adventurous as it is enjoyable. Troy Collins, Point Of Departure.

Enticing Concept Music

A classic in modern jazz, this 2-CD set features some of the most enticing concept music ever released on disc. An early trio recording of a live program, where Braam takes popular and obscure compositions by Thelonious Monk, and completely turns them upside down, making them his own. Along with bassist Wilbert De Joode and drummer Michael Vatcher, there is a spectacular synergy that sparks a musical encounter of continual surprise, sophistication, and humor. Steve Loewy, All Music.

Anagrams and Dutch jazz are a Perfect Fit

Anagrams and Dutch jazz are a perfect fit. The Dutch have figured out unique methods for taking elements of jazz history from stride through the avant-garde and reconfiguring them into forms that are new and exciting yet leave nothing out. Pianist, composer, and bandleader Michiel Braam is an exemplar of this approach, and the 2005 CD Change This Song by Trio BraamDeJoodeVatcher uses its music and even its song titles to suggest how the best Dutch jazz can endlessly reveal new meanings amidst the familiar. Change This Song includes ten pieces, and each song title -- e.g., "Songs Each Night," "Can Ghosts Neigh?," "Nightsong Aches" -- is an anagram of the album title. Moreover, according to Braam's website, the live Change This Song set list includes a total of 18 pieces that are reordered spontaneously at any given concert depending upon the circumstances of the moment. (And of course, a CD in shuffle-play mode can introduce a similar element into your home listening environment.) Of course, this type of spontaneity is central to jazz and certainly wasn't invented by the Dutch, but the jumbled titles do suggest aspects that are unique to Dutch jazz before you even pop the disc into your CD player. And true to form, once the disc is spinning you can hear Braam's individual influences mixing together while something new and of a singular piece emerges, charting a path that is both "avant-garde" and instantly engaging and accessible.


One is immediately struck by the tunefulness of Braam's music, and the predominance of melody as the springboard for improvisation. The sprightly opener, "Angsts, Once High," sounds like it could be a classic Monk tune, with its wide interval leap in the melody and off-kilter phrasing as the leader's piano, Wilbert de Joode's gut-stringed chamber bass, and Michael Vatcher's drums almost immediately begin a stop-and-start dialogue that circles around the empty space where the composer's strong melody has left a mental imprint. To bring Monk-like phrasing fully into the 21st century and perhaps introduce another angle to the music-shuffling theme, the trio briefly locks into a rhythm suggesting a skipping CD player. "Hotch as Ginseng" flirts with boogie-woogie and introduces a short melodic phrase that unexpectedly becomes an ostinato bridge into a slow-motion fragmented recapitulation of the theme. The snappy "Songs Each Night," less than four minutes long, reveals Braam's ability to squeeze improvisations betwixt and between his catchy melodies in a compact package utterly free of extended-form indulgence, while the longer ballad-tempo "Can Ghosts Neigh?" provides an opportunity for de Joode to state the composer's classic-sounding melody with lovely arco technique.


The extraordinary Vatcher is ramshackle and his playing filled with subtle subversions throughout the disc; listen as Braam anchors one of the album's few rhythmic vamps in "Congesting Hash" and Vatcher skitters about. From start to finish, Vatcher is able to find a space for a snare hit that attacks just where it should but rarely exactly where you would anticipate. In a sense, Michiel Braam's phrasing is not as willfully eccentric as that of Misha Mengelberg (who obviously has had his own share of subversions going on with drummer Han Bennink for decades), but when Braam decides to nail the groove, Vatcher is often there to pull it in another direction altogether (or sometimes, as in a moment of walking bassline while Braam and Vatcher explode with angular fragmentation on the closing "High Agons Scent," it is de Joode who holds the rhythmic foundation). And just when you think you've got the trio's modus operandi figured out, along comes the perfectly titled "Nightsong Aches," a somber, minor-keyed circular chord progression in search of harmonic resolution -- it is elegant, darkly beautiful, and quietly moving, standing in its own solitary and moody universe. On Change This Song, Michiel Braam and his trio members don't view the jazz continuum as a linear progression from point A to point Z. Everything can be used, and everything counts, in their anagrammatic take on Dutch jazz (or would that be "Chad Zutz"?), a scrambled history lesson knitted together by strong melodicism and a singular sense of purpose. Dave Lynch, All Music.

Critic's Choice

Pianist Michiel Braam is one of the most exciting and prolific composers in jazz, but like most of his peers on the Dutch scene he doesn't hold his sheet music sacred. In fact, he seems to love running his songs through different permutations, both within a specific group and across formats, from solo to big band. He played here last year with his sextet, All Ears, and later this year his large group, Bik Bent Braam, will make its local debut at the Jazz Festival, but he may be best known in Chicago for his superb acoustic trio with bassist Wilbert de Joode and drummer Michael Vatcher. That group is featured on Change This Song (BBB), one of two new albums that draw from a suite of 18 Braam compositions. On the other, Hosting Changes (BBB), credited to the Wurli Trio, Braam plays many of the same songs on Wurlitzer electric keyboard, joined by a drummer and electric bassist. The electric group is sleeker and more fluid, but I think the acoustic trio is more rewarding. Braam has no problem reconciling historical impulses with more contemporary gestures, and like fellow Dutch pianist Misha Mengelberg he's fond of exploding a hard-swinging line with a burst of dissonant clusters and spiky runs; Vatcher and de Joode take similar delight in upending the flow of the tunes. Onstage, any of them might call out a new song in midstream, which gives their concerts thrilling tension--but even if someone manages to pull the rug out from under the others, they always regain their footing, deftly and elegantly.

Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader

One of the Most Interesting Small Ensembles in Europe

Over the last two decades the trio of pianist Michiel Braam, double bass player Wilbert de Joode and drummer Michael Vatcher has developed into one of the most interesting small ensembles in Europe.  What sets them apart is a relaxed relationship to jazz combined with a predilection for improvisation, adventure and experiment.

The title 'Quartet' refers of course to the fact that for every concert a guest musician expands the trio into a quartet. It's great to hear this brilliant trio in such diverse combinations.

Joachim Ceulemans, Kwadratuur

Welcome to the website of Dutch pianist / composer / band leader Michiel Braam. You can find information about his groups and projects, listen to music and buy CDs in the shop.

Click 'close news' at the right-upper corner to go to the menu.

Double Bill

Wish You Were Here by Pink Too and ¡Oye Mambo! premiered September 7 this fall. We’re editing film material now and are to book both in a double program, to be performed in 2024. Keep an eye on the calendar!

Wish You Were Here

Along with mouthwatering vocalist Vera Westera, Penguins Too is currently working on their own version of the legendary Pink Floyd album "Wish You Were Here" for concerts to be performed 2023-2024. The three meet regularly in Beek to explore what could be a great rendition of this wonderful music. Rehearsals are in development, keep an eye on our calendar!

Noro Morales

We are exploring the music of the great Puerto Rican pianist Noro Morales with a new quintet. In this new group Michiel performs together with double bassist Gerard Schoren and no less than three wonderful percussion players: Martin Gort, Vera and André Groen. In the last century Noro was a great example for many Latin musicians and was called the Duke Ellington of Latin music, also because he had a large orchestra. Much of that wonderful repertoire is now being recreated by this quintet. Rehearsals started, stay tuned! To be booked for the 2023-2024 season.

Penguins Too Meet & Feed: “Dinner with the Greats"

Michiel Braam and Frank Nielander will not only perform at your favorite venue, they will also roll up their sleeves in the culinary field. On top of playing pieces by famous musicians, they take the favorite snacks of these greats with them! And, obviously, a matching glass of wine if desired. How about "Sonny Rollins' vegetable stew". Or Dave Brubeck's "low carb Barbecue Patties and Sauce"? Charlie Parker's "Kansas city chicken wings"? Get them juices work! Just sit back and relax.


How to do it? You ask us to run! From the list provided by us, choose the musicians you would like to be surprised with, played and served by Penguins Too in their famous inimitable way. Curious? Please contact us for more information.

El XYZ de Son Bent Braam Album Out Now!

In 1995 Braam wrote "The XYZ of Bik Bent Braam" for the large band he founded in 1986 and which was a working band until 2013. The program consisted of 26 pieces, one for each letter of the alphabet and was then considered Michiel's provisional masterpiece. The reviews spoke of "a perfect balance between the classic big band idiom and a more contemporary sound", "Braam's compositions are among the most fascinating that Dutch jazz has to offer", "Braam is entitled to a full-time jazz ensemble", "stunningly beautiful", "spectacular", "on top of all insubordination, all pieces contain a small melodic pearl", "particularly spiritual", "belongs to the best jazz recorded in 1996, wherever in the world", "not arrogant or sarcastic, but with infectious kindness", "Braam brings out the best in the musicians", "the most adventurous Dutch jazz around", "This is Jazz as dada, where the music’s hysterical edge conveys an air of unrelenting slapstick". Many reviewers referred to Duke Ellington as a main source of inspiration for orchestra and compositions. The program was presented in two tours and played 3 times over a few years in a sold out Bimhuis. One of those concerts was recorded and released in 1996 at Willem Breuker’s BVHaast label. Later that same year, Bik Bent Braam received a structural subsidy and Michiel was awarded the Boy Edgar Prize.


After 25 years, and many concerts with various bands and in various styles, Braam arranged a sort of Latin version under the title "El XYZ de Son Bent Braam". In the jubilee year 2020, the new arrangement will be performed in a line-up of top musicians from the Dutch jazz and Latin scenes. Around Braam's trio Nos Otrobanda (with Aty de Windt, baby bass and André Groen, percussion) that specializes in Antillean music, extra percussionists (Martin Gort and new talent Danny Rombout), brass players (Angelo Verploegen and the upcoming Joël Botma, trumpet, Ilja Reijngoud and the young phenomenon Efe Erdem, trombone) and saxophonists (Bart van der Putten, Efraim Trujillo, Frank Nielander and emerging star Jesse Schilderink) have gathered. The arrangement contains the styles mambo, bolero, cha-cha, montuno, merengue, calypso, son, rumba, bembé, boogaloo, mozambique, samba, afro, danzón and is suitable for listeners and dancers.


The program contains the parts Apagado, Bienestar, Chachachando, Duelo, Electricidad, Fugazmente, Guasón, Hipsifobia, Improvisación, Jazzz, Kuratela, Lentomaslentomáslento, Marcha, Noisettes, Obeso, Pico, Quickstep, Reposadamente, Solfear, Tristano, Ultra, Violeta, Wolfitas, X, Yate, Zafio and will be presented in 2 versions, with the parts following each other seamlessly. A 100-minutes version with a break between M and N, and in a special 75-minutes festival cut without a break.


The first two concerts, at Stranger than Paranoia festival, in December 2019, were recorded for an album issue. Son Bent Braam will do a release concert during this year's Music Meeting, June 1st. Go to our shop page to hear samples of all tunes and order your copy, or click here to go through the 26 parts in just over two minutes.

New Album Reeds & Deeds Out Now!

September 2019, a new album, "Live at JazzCase", by Reeds & Deeds was released. This sextet specializes in the music of Roland Kirk. Visit the Reeds & Deeds review page to see the first reviews. Visit our shop page to hear samples of the album.

New Album Penguins Too Out Now!

January 2018, a new album, "Crime", by Penguins Too was released. The duo formerly known as "Two Penguins In The Desert" was founded in 1987 to play at Frank's and Michiel's finals at the conservatory, more specifically to play the Lennie Tristano tune "Wow". The cooperation felt very comfortable and the duo continued to play for 16 years, specializing in cool jazz and the "hotter" bebop tunes, resulting in its first album "Jazzs". After a sabbatical between 2003 and 2017, the duo currently focusses on music written for or associated with crime films and television series, such as the twelve tone music from the 1974 movie "The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three", Ennio Morricone's music from the television series "La Piovra", the main title of "Narcos", Duke Ellington's "Anatomy of a Murder". All these pieces, plus a Chopin prelude, a Misha tune and several duo improvisations will be issued as a suite. Visit our shop page to hear samples of the mentioned tracks.

The Curaçao Experience Released!

October 13th Nos Otrobanda's first album, The Curaçao Experience, arrived. 18 tunes were recorded at ACEC Apeldoorn, where we could, thanks to the friendly cooperation of orkest de ereprijs, use a fine recording space for three days. The album is a typical DIY product; we recorded the music ourselves with some advice from Rein Sprong, we did the art work on our own, using a band photo and beautiful macro picture as front image by Marjan Smejsters and some final advice from Pascale Companjen and were along the process of learning the tunes helped in several ways by Joop Halman and the Palm Music Foundation. Joop has also written the liner notes, which you can find below.

We are yet to plan the release concerts, but one of them is already set: December 18 we will play the Uterelease Concert and present the album in a concert at the very same place where it was recorded. We would be glad to welcome you! Free entrance!


Check out the Nos Otrobanda pages for more info and samples of the music.


The Liner Notes


Otrobanda: the cradle of the Curaçaoan waltz, danza, mazurka and tumba.


It is in colorful Otrobanda where elements of European, African, Caribbean and Latin American cultures influenced each other and where Curaçao’s music culture emerged in the mid-19th century. Since then It manifested itself lively in the streets and squares and in the houses in Otrobanda. A home party in Otrobanda was unimaginable without the playing of music and dancing. 


Jan Gerard (Gerry) Palm (1831-1906) is generally considered the father of the Curaçaoan waltzes, mazurkas, danzas and tumbas. He is also the patriarch of the musical Palm dynasty which includes composers such as Rudolf Palm (1880-1950), Jacobo Palm (1887-1982), Toni Palm (1885-1962), Albert Palm (1903-1958) and Edgar Palm (1905-1998).  All the members of this musical family were born and lived in Otrobanda.


By his piano performances and the recording of numerous LPs and CDs, maestro Edgar Palm succeeded in keeping the rich musical heritage of his family alive. Two of Edgar Palm’s albums, ‘Otrobanda’ and ‘Music of the Netherlands Antilles’, have inspired jazz pianist Michiel Braam to start to work on a new musical journey. He transcribed all the tunes of both albums and  formed with Antillean bassist Aty de Windt and percussionist André Groen their trio ‘Nos Otrobanda’. On this journey, Michiel also discovered something special that he has in common with Edgar Palm: although with a time span difference of some decades, he and Edgar Palm had the same music teacher, Rudi Feenstra.


Nos Otrobanda succeeded in creating an authentic, vivid and catchy performance of Curaçao’s music. This CD may be considered as a most welcome and creative addition to the variety of interpretations of Antillean music.


Joop Halman

Chairman of the Palm Music Foundation

The Aye performed in South Africa

THE AYE, a stage show adapted from Ana Isabel Ordonez's internationally acclaimed book, THE EXTRAORDINARY LOVE STORY OF AYE AYE AND FEDOR, was performed to celebrate the 85th birthday of Nobel Peace Laureate Monseigneur Archbishop Desmond Tutu as a part of the Sixth Annual Desmond TutuInternational Peace Conference in Cape Town on 7 October.


THE AYE is a dance theatre extravaganza that depicts a beautiful love story between two endangered animals: Aye Aye, a lemur, Fedor, and a white lion. Each defines the term "opposites attract" in a fantastic universe called the Musical Forest. While Aye Aye was free to run wild and enjoy the forest, Fedor was stuck in a zoo. The two meet while he is in captivity. They strike up a friendship that helps them both make some important discoveries and launches them on a journey to places they never thought they would go. Inspired by her love for Fedor, Aye Aye helps the animals at the zoo, who have had a difficult time in captivity, to escape and reunite in the Magical Forest where they are finally free, allowed to celebrate who they are. A happy ending is in store for everyone, thanks to the courage and quick thinking of Aye Aye and Fedor. Aye Aye and Fedor's journey is a great example of friendship and cooperation between friends who on the surface seem to be very different from one another, but who have similar goals and a desire to share their lives together.


The world premiere of the dance theatre adaptation in South Africa will feature a fantastic set, a jazz-rock score by Michiel Braam, inspired choreography by Sifiso Kweyama and mischievous masks handmade in South Africa by La Carla Masks. The magical show will bring together a sparkling fusion of music (in a definitive recording by eBraam which includes drummer Dirk-Peter Kölsch, guitarists Pieter Douma and Jörg Lehnardt and harpist Ulrike von Meier), dance (by Jazzart Dance Theatre) and amusing narration (by New York based singer Dean Bowman). THE AYE was performed by Jazzart Dance Theater company dancers Adam Malebo and Tracey September, joined by Abdul-Aaghier Isaacs, Amber Jodie Andrews, Darion Adams, Gabriella Dirkse, Ilze Williams, Keenun Wales, Luyanda Mdingi, Lynette du Plessis, Mandisi Ngcwayi, Paxton-Alice Simons, Siphosethu Gojo, Tanzley Jooste, Thandiwe Mqokeli and Vuyolwethu Nompetsheni.


An album with both music and Dean Bowman's narration as well as an album with longer instrumental version of the composition only are available at Amazon.

Click here for The Music & Narration version or here for The Music only version.

New Solo Album Released!

Last December I played a solo set at Opus Jazz Club in Budapest, which was organized by Budapest Music Center. The set was recorded and now issued under the title "Gloomy Sunday" on the BMC label.


For me, doing a solo concert doesn’t involve any preparation in terms of a set-list or anything concrete about pieces I will be playing. I simply start and see where everything leads me to.

At this concert, I made an exception to this custom. Not only would it be nice to play one of the many famous Hungarian compositions in Budapest, but also the very night of the concert, students of the ArtEZ University of the Arts, where I am head of Jazz & Pop, organized a concert in remembrance of our student Robin Cornelissen who had died exactly two years earlier. I had played ”Gloomy Sunday” at his funeral and playing it in the Opus Jazz Club connected me to Robin, as well as to the great Hungarian music tradition.


Check out the webshop for details, samples of all 10 tunes inclusive.


Recordings Nos Otrobanda July 2016

Beginning July Nos Otrobanda will, one and a half year after its premiere concert and hopefully 20 degrees warmer, finally make real recordings of 21 songs the trio is playing at the moment. We'll make an album with those recordings. The album will be including (in alphabetical order) Ana Maria/Antillana, Azucena/Otrobanda, Canto De Los Angeles, Casino, Cocktail De Sjon Jan, Dandie, Eliza, Erani ta Malu, Ina, La India, La Inspiración, Lo Bello, Manina, Maria Cecilia, Mosaico de Tumbas 2, Ramillete Venezolano, Sabrosita, Sorpresa Inesperada, Teleraña, Tumba Cocktail y Salza 1 and Winy.

New album by Olanda In Due out now.

We issued the first album of our duo Olanda In Due, with Bo Van de Graaf on saxes. Including tunes by musicians such as Guiseppe Verdi, Nico Haak and Billie Holiday. Recorded live at the NovaraJazz Festival this summer.

Click here to find out how to order and hear samples of the tunes.

First performance Nos Otrobanda!

February 5, 2015, at BReBL, Nijmegen, this trio played its first concert. You can check out several tunes of that concert on SoundCloud.


In this brand-new band I play together with bass player Aty de Windt and latin percussionist André Groen. With Nos Otrobanda we concentrate on Antillean music, especially waltzes. I hear this music for like 26 years now and all of those years I wanted to do something with the music myself. It took me this long to grasp the nettle. I transcribed the music from 2 elpees of Curaçao pianist Edgar Palm and we are also very grateful to Joop Halman of the Palm Music Foundation for his contributions. I find especially the constant danceable friction between binary and ternary rhythm in this music very intriguing.This year (Bas Andriessen filmed our somewhat ill at ease first rehearsal) we worked on the material, in which process Aty not only provided a relaxed swing in his role as our bass player but also learned us about the essentials of Antillean music. It has been quite some time ago since I played Latin-American music. We must go way back to 1997, when I played, after being a member of that band for eight years, my last gig with the European Danzón Orchestra. It is truly delicious to play Latin music again, this time with Nos Otrobanda.

New Website Online

Welcome to our new website! About 10 times faster now, and working not only on competers but also on tablets, telephones and so forth. Info, reviews, concert dates, photos, videos, music samples, a shop, news items and how to contact us is all included. Thanks to Sjors of &Braam Super Sexy Web Development!

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