The Amsterdam-based trio Nordanians return to the UK and Ireland to play concerts in Bath, York, Nottingham and Limerick this week as part of the Going Dutch project, which has also seen the trio’s violist, Oene van Geel from LoLanders with two fellow Dutch musicians and a Scottish-based trio. LoLanders tour over here in June but first, Van Geel answered some questions about the Nordanians and their blend of raga-driven energy, adventurous funk and delicate chamber music. Interview by Rob Adams:
LondonJazz News: How and when did you meet and how did the Nordanians come into existence as a group?
Oene van Geel: We’d known each other for quite a long time when we decided to get together at our guitarist, Mark Tuistra‘s home and just have a jam to see what happened. We’d never played together with just the three of us before but straight away we felt the energetic and grooving vibe and the urge for adventure. The band was born.
LJN: You all work in a variety of musical groups and situations away from the Nordanians [Van Geel is a member of the acclaimed string quartet Zapp4; Tuistra currently works with Senegalese singer Omar Ka; and tablas player Niti Ranjan Biswas’ CV includes gigs with Indian flute master Hariprasad Chausrasia and the Metropole Orkest], how does that impact on the Nordanians’ music?
OVG: Every musical experience helps to shape you as a player and what we love particularly is the interaction between the three of us when we play together. We like to play clear songs, grooves, chords and ragas but we leave lots of possibilities for manoeuvres and fun in the moment. And if we want to burst out into beatboxing and vocals, show our sentimental side, or be dead serious, we do it.
LJN: You’ve toured extensively across the world. Can you share some of your favourite experiences with us?
OVG: “We had a gig in Beirut where the young crowd was electrified with enthusiasm. They were mostly young Syrians, wanting to make something of their lives, and we will never forget that! Playing in Taiwan was great too (lots of friendly people) and last but not least, the UK and Ireland last year was a great experience, with the Sage in Gateshead as a highlight. Dublin was fun and we loved visiting the Lake District to play at Zeffirelli’s in Ambleside, although driving the narrow and busy roads made us scream out! That was scary but the audience were very attentive and appreciative.”
LJN: You’re open to working with guest collaborators [their experiences with Scottish whistle virtuoso, piper and saxophonist Fraser Fifield led to Fifield and van Geel instigating LoLanders], which ones have you particularly enjoyed?
OVG: All of them, really, but playing with Oleg Fateev, a bayan (Russian button accordion) virtuoso with a highly romantic and lyrical spirit, was special. John Beasley, a piano player/composer from the States. Such a musical storyteller. Check out his Monkestra: amazing! And Drubha Gosh, a sarangi player from Mumbai. Sadly, he died about two years ago but we will remember his musical poetry and concentration forever.”
LJN: What can audiences in Bath, York, Nottingham and Limerick expect to experience with a Nordanians performance?
OVG: “Fireworks, cinematic gestures, interaction, humour and drama. We look forward to meeting them!”
Rob Adams is a freelance journalist based in Edinburgh who is helping the Going Dutch project with publicity.
Widcombe Social Club, Bath on Tuesday, 30 April
The Crescent, York on Wednesday 1 May
The Bonington Theatre, Nottingham, Thursday 2 May
Upstairs at Dolans, Limerick, Friday 3 May.