INTERVIEW: Coen Molenaar (Dutch band Tristan, UK Tour Dates Jul-Sep 2018)

Tristan – with Evelyn Kallansee, vocalist, and keyboards player Coen Molenaar far right.
Publicity photo

Jazz-funksters Tristan are the latest band to visit the UK through the Going Dutch project, organised by the Jazz Promotion Network with support from Dutch Performing Arts. (UK tour dates below). The band has released three albums and has already made quite an impression on UK audiences on previous visits with its energetic sound that draws on classic Acid Jazz and features singer Evelyn Kallansee. Rob Adams asked Tristan’s keyboards player, Coen Molenaar, to explain more about the band – which takes its name from drummer, Sebastiaan Cornelissen’s son’s middle name; it was the first thing that came to Cornelissen’s mind when he was put on the spot by a promoter.

LondonJazz News: Tristan has been around in some form since 2003 but took some time to get to its current form; can you give us the background to this?

Coen Molenaar: The idea for the band started in 2003 when the drummer, Sebastiaan Cornelissen met Frans Vollink, who plays the bass, and myself. We were in a recording studio to play on the album release of a guitar player from Luxembourg. It instantly felt as if we had been playing together for ages! But it took until 2014 for the band to find the right singer: Evelyn. That same year the first album, Full Power, was released.

LJN: You toured with Randy Brecker in the early days; what effect did working with him have on your music?

CM: As you can hear in quite a few of our songs, we all love the musical era that produced the Brecker Brothers and were already influenced by them when our rhythm section played with Randy. We did a couple of small tours here in Europe with him, and he’s also a guest soloist on a couple of songs. Randy is very supportive and enthusiastic about our music and that helps us feel that we’re on the right track.

LJN: What is the group’s musical philosophy?

CM: We love to give the albums a live vibe so, the philosophy is: just play! Drums, bass and keys are recorded in the studio together, in one take, to keep it vibrant and direct. Also during a live performance it is the same philosophy: just play! No fooling around, giving all your energy and inspire the audience. (That’s actually why the first CD is entitled Full Power).

LJN: Who composes the tunes and songs and how do they come together?

CM: Lucky band we are! Frans, Coen and Sebastiaan all write songs. They all write separately, then Evelyn, our vocalist gets the songs in her e-mail from all the guys and writes lyrics. Once in a while, a guest singer writes stuff too. It’s nice to have this variety of composers in one band.

LJN: Steve Lukather, of Toto, has been very generous in his praise for Tristan, describing your music as the best of the 1970s brought into the current age. How did you make the connection with him?

CM: Sebastiaan, the drummer, was a big Toto fan when he was young. He got in contact with their drummer, Jeff Porcaro, who thought Sebastiaan was very talented. Jeff was going to give him some lessons, but unfortunately Jeff died. This was a big blow for the band. Ever since then, Sebastiaan has sent Steve Lukather all the music he recorded and when Steve heard Tristan he was so enthusiastic and wrote Sebastiaan a long e-mail… we are sooo very proud and grateful about what he said. We’ll never forget that moment!

LJN: Do you have plans for a new album?

CM: After making an album a year for four years we needed a little break, but album five will be released spring 2019.

LJN: What would you like the audience to take away from the gig (aside from CDs)?

CM: We want the audience to leave our concerts feeling charged with positive energy, inspired and longing for more!

Rob Adams has been working with JPN and Dutch Prforming Arts (PodiumkunsteNL) to help promote the Going Dutch bands. Going Dutch is set to continue into 2019

Tour dates:

1 July: Colchester Arts Centre Jazz Club
2 July: Pizza Express, Holborn, London
6 July: Harrogate Festival
13 July: Tall Ships Stage, Sunderland
29 September: The Brook, Southampton
30 September: Wall2Wall, Abergavenny

LINK: Tristan’s website

Categories: Features/Interviews

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