Somewhere in 2013 — unfortunately I can’t recall the exact moment or month but by logical deduction I’m pretty sure I started the whole thing in that particular year — I began working on a new Jazz Suite that I named Roots & Reflections, as part of Stage 6 of the NextSteps Series Projects.
I had an idea floating around in my head that materialized as Origin Alpha Prime, a 6/8 piece that functions as the center point around which I have composed the rest of the Jazz Suite. In the years that followed I wrote more songs in different styles — jazz waltz, swing, latin, funk, fusion — and gradually worked my way outward from that central theme, building and expanding on my Jazz Suite.
In the mean while I was also building my own company, writing books about the human nature (for instance ‘The Anti-complain Book | First aid kit for nagging and wining‘) and introducing myself as a public speaker and teacher, doing presentations and workshops all around the Netherlands and Belgium. And that explains the relative wide gap in time between Stage 5 (2010) and Stage 6 (2018). I started my company in 2010, you see, and went operational in april 2011, so I was quite busy. ‘A rolling stone gathers no moss’; no flies on me, you know, you have to keep going.
If you are curious about the other stuff I’m doing, please click here.
By the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018 I had composed 32 songs and I decided that was well enough to work with. Parts 1, 2 and 3 of Stage 6 materialized in my head and gained traction. From the main package of 32 songs I recorded 24 concept working audio files to translate into sheet music (Part 1), recorded various parts of the Jazz Suite as solo pianist (Part 2) with the goal to ultimately select and record 12 compositions as acoustic jazz trio (Part 3).
Part 2 of Stage 6 of the NextSteps Series Projects aims to record the Jazz Suite Roots & Reflections as solo piano pieces providing a glimpse of what is to be expected in Part 3. The recordings took place on the 8th, 9th and 10th of January 2019.
I spent three days behind the grand piano in the studio to record as many compositions as I could. On the one hand I played strictly according to the structure of the various compositions but I also created lots of space to improvise, to tweak and to revise. It was a lot of work — blood, sweat and tears for sure — but it was also a lot of fun. You never know what happens when your ‘alone’ in the studio with a nice grand piano (I called her ‘Suzanne’, by the way).
So what do you do with three days worth of audio solo tracks? Well, as a writer I know and learned the hard way that you have to ‘kill your darlings’. And if your productivity is high you subsequently have to kill off of a lot. These three days behind the grand piano have been ruthlessly reduced to just over 4 hours of ‘workable material’ and after that I had to reduce it even further, determining final takes, alternate takes and ‘reserve’ takes.
Hours and hours of listening and editing with the headphone on and lots of liquids nearby; I can assure you, it doesn’t feel like ‘work’ at all! And I hope, in the end, you will appreciate the result.
By the way, the center piece of my Jazz Suite Roots & Reflections, Origin Alpha Prime, is also recorded on video.
All recording sessions are done in Studio-Cube in Rossum, Gelderland, (check out their website) with many thanks to Arthur Theunissen (media composer, studio technician), Luuk Bergervoet (producer, studio technician) and Frans de Visser (designer, cameraman, editor) for their hospitality and craftmanship. Their energy and enthusiasm adds to mine!
Full documentary of the NextSteps Projects Stage 6
All through Stage 6 various elements of this NextSteps Project are filmed by Frans de Visser and these video recordings will eventually accumulate into a full documentary — a ‘the-making-of-NextSteps Projects Stage 6‘, if you will — that encapsulates all the hard work, creativity, cooperation and the love of music that pours out of every vain of everybody involved.
More video material will be available by the way, such as a promo, a solo videoclip and a trio videoclip. It’s going to be great. Many thanks to all in making this possible. It has been the ultimate accumulation of dreams!
Hans Keur Photography
The black and white photo’s on this website are made with dedication and passion by Photographer Hans Keur. Check out his website! He has been with me photographically since my first NextSteps Solo Project in 2000 and I am very pleased that he could find the time to capture alle the great moments in the studio and beyond. Hans, your black & white imagery matches mine all the way!
And is what the solo jazz album looks like: