|Hermine Deurloo, Rembrandt Frerichs and a flying harmonica
Harmonica virtuoso Hermine Deurloo appears in a quartet with pianist Rembrandt Frerichs on the second day of a three-day representation of Dutch-based talent and collaboration in Manchester Jazz Festival’s Celebrating Europe series that runs from 25 to 27 May. Rob Adams sets the scene and speaks to Hermine about her harmonica adventures.
Hermine Deurloo has played in the UK on only a few occasions and is looking forward to working in Manchester with Rembrandt Frerichs, whose adventurous approach – “you never hear the same intro twice,” she says – particularly appeals to her.
The harmonica wasn’t Deurloo’s first choice of instrument. She played recorder and cello from the age of five and switched to saxophone when she went to Amsterdam Conservatory’s jazz department with the desire to play jazz in the style of Wayne Shorter, form a band and travel the world.
She was side-tracked by hearing recordings by the late harmonica genius Toots Thielemans. Initially she worked out his solos on saxophone but one day in a shop she came across a chromatic harmonica, bought it and began to study.
“When I began playing professionally, I combined the saxophone and the harmonica,” she says. “But more and more I got asked to do just harmonica gigs. Then I played on a commercial for Dutch television and that melody became quite famous, so that helped to build my profile.”
Her wide-ranging playing career – she’s handled gigs with maverick drummer Han Bennink and soul-jazz saxophonist Candy Dulfer with equal ease – reflects her musical interests. Growing up she listened to all sorts of musical styles, from Madness to Stan Getz, and she takes an “it’s all music” approach to whatever comes her way.
“What I do is all related,” she says. “It’s all improvising, although something from a really different culture like Tango or Flamenco would be more difficult because of the rhythm. In October this year I will play a modern classical piece; now that will be a challenge!”
She met Rembrandt Frerichs through the bassist in Frerichs’ trio, Tony Overwater, and as well as his sense of adventure, she was drawn to his melodic approach to improvising.
“He has a piano style that is similar to my playing on the harmonica,” she says. “He has a great knowledge of harmony and classical music which I find interesting. We’re really looking forward to playing in Manchester and hope the people there will leave the concert inspired and enlightened.”
Beginning with the UK debut of voice, guitar, viola and electronics duo Sanem Kalfa & George Dumitriu, who will be exploring their Turkish and Romanian roots, the Dutch programme also features Amsterdam-based vocalist, pianist and trombonist Nani Noam Vazana in a new project with Manchester-based cellist Abel Selaocoe, called Both Sides of Africa.
This meeting builds on the ongoing success of LoLanders, the international sextet which premiered at Celtic Connections in Glasgow earlier this year and in June will take musicians including violist Oene van Geel and whistle master Fraser Fifield to UK and Dutch dates including Glasgow Jazz Festival and the Netherlands’ flagship jazz venue, the Bimhuis.
All of these connections are being made through the auspices of Going Dutch, the project funded by Dutch Performing Arts and organised by the Jazz Promotion Network, which was set up to bring Dutch musicians to the UK and Ireland and is facilitating, in some cases, first and in other cases, rare appearances on these shores.
The Hermine Deurloo-Rembradt Frerichs Quartet plays Bridgewater Hall (Barbirolli Room) on Sunday May 26 at 12 noon.
Sanem Kalfa & George Dumitriu play at International Anthony Burgess Foundation on Saturday May 25 at 7pm.
Nani Noam Vazana & Abel Selaocoe’s Both Sides of Africa is at St Ann’s Church at 4:30pm.
Rob Adams is a freelance journalist based in Edinburgh who has been working on publicity for Going Dutch.