Friday, July 23, 2010

Willem Breuker, 1944-2010

It might be odd to find a memoriam here for Dutch bandleader Willem Breuker, who died today, but I have a special fond memory of his music. Probably in the early 1990s, hanging out on the Zorn List, I explored some of the byways of European jazz, and eventually came to Breuker's Kollektief. Maybe the first CD I got was Heibel, which came packed in a cheese box. But the second one was Sensemaya, a CD nearly sometimes disparaged by Breuker lovers because the group performs more standard repertoire than straight improvisational jazz. Among these was a beautifully recorded crooning ballad sung in Dutch, Diep in Mijn Hart, a danceable foxtrot with the most sensuous trombone solo that instantly transported me to the fairy tale land of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The Kollektief on this album was augmented by a 12-piece string ensemble and a couple of soloists, and the recording was impeccable. I fell in love with this song, still one of my favorites and on my iPod even now. Several albums later I realize that this was uncharacteristic music for Breuker…

I should also mention the Acousmatrix series of electronic music CDs that his label, BVHaast, released. Seminal electronic pieces by Henri Pousseur, Luc Ferrari, Gottfried Michael Koenig, and others, were all available through Breuker's effort.

So today, I'm having a beer and a listen to Heibel in his memory. R.I.P, Willem Breuker.

I haven't seen any obituaries in English yet, just this death notice from Radio Nederlands. I'll post an obituary link if I find one.

Update: here's an obituary in the New York Times.


maready said...

Caleb --- a friend sent me the link to the obitiuary in Le Monde a few days ago:

In the meantime, I am filling in the gaps in my knowledge of Mr. Breuker's work (the 'Lucky's Psychic Hut' site has many O.O.P. Breucker and Instant Composer's Pool recordings.) I will certainly be searching out 'Sensemaya' on your recommendation.

I did not know that BVHaast was Breuker's label. The wording in your post leaves it somewhat unclear --- did he start the label, or was it 'his' label in the sense that he released music on it and curated the Acousmatrix series? I have many BVHaast LPs and CDs, including some I plan on sharing soon (I had noticed that Breuker wrote the liner notes for a mid-70s BVHaast LP of orchestral music by Konrad Boehmer that I have been digitizing.)

Thanks for the tribute and the recommendation --- I know much less about Breuker than some other Dutch improvisers and will be trying to rectify my ignorance.

Caleb Deupree said...

Hi Maready, thanks for the comment and the link. The BVHaast web site says that Breuker was the label's founder.

Anonymous said...

A Guardian obituary:

Luda said...

A memorial website was created for Willem Breuker! Honor his memory by contributing to his memorial site