The Dutch/Scots collaboration LoLanders plays a series of dates in the UK and the Netherlands this month. Rob Adams reports:
Formed by Dutch violist Oene van Geel and Scottish saxophonist-piper-whistle player Fraser Fifield, the group played their first concert at Celtic Connections in Glasgow in January, by which time interest had already been piqued among promoters on both sides of the North Sea.
“It’s been really gratifying to know that the first gig wasn’t going to be the only one, as can often be the case with these sorts of collaborations,” says van Geel. “Although some of us had worked together in the past, we went into rehearsals for the Glasgow gig having never played together as a band before and the music came together really well. In fact, it felt like a group from the start, both in terms of the sound we made and the way everyone got along.”
Van Geel had previously invited Fifield to guest – very successfully, as it turned out – with the jazz-world-raga trio Nordanians in Amsterdam and there was another link in that LoLanders’ guitarist, Graeme Stephen, who also has a longstanding working relationship with Fifield, had composed for and played and recorded with van Geel’s string quartet, Zapp4.
“I also have a long partnership with the bass guitarist in LoLanders, Mark Haanstra,” says van Geel. “So, there was an obvious familiarity between some of the players but the way our two percussionists, Hardeep Deerhe on tablas and Udo Demandt very quickly formed a strong understanding really illustrates how compatible the group as a whole has turned out to be.”
The Celtic Connections gig was a great success – The Herald’s Keith Bruce enthused about the group’s strong grooves and the quality of its compositions and musicianship – and further dates, including Glasgow Jazz Festival and the Bimhuis in Amsterdam quickly came in for the new band.
With Fifield concentrating on pipes and whistles, there’s a strong folk music element in the music but as van Geel points out, there are also chamber music qualities as well as there being a lot of room for improvisation.
“This is a band – and music – that really comes alive in the moment,” says the violist, whose wordless vocals add to the world music vibe that the two percussionists drum up. “We’re really looking forward to taking it out on the road and developing the music and the group identity further.”
LoLanders was the first collaborative result of the Jazz Promotion Network’s Going Dutch project. Since then, Going Dutch has helped to facilitate another successful collaboration, Both Sides of Africa, which features Amsterdam-based Ladino singer, pianist and trombonist Nani-Noam Vazana and Manchester-based cellist Abel Selaocoe and made its first public performance at Manchester Jazz Festival last month.
“Without wishing to get into the political situation between the UK and the EU, these artistic meetings of minds are the sort of thing that should be encouraged,” says van Geel. “I’m pleased that we were given the chance to create LoLanders and I hope there’ll be more opportunities for similar projects in the future.”
Rob Adams is a freelance journalist based in Edinburgh and helps publicise Going Dutch.LoLanders play: The Pop Up in Durham on Friday 7 June 2019; Nijmegen Music Meeting on Saturday 8 June; The Lescar, Sheffield 19 June; Blue Arrow, Glasgow 21 June; Bridge Hotel, Newcastle 23 June; Widcombe Social Club, Bath 24 June; Bimhuis, Amsterdam 26 June; and InJazz, Rotterdam 27 June.