A musical world tour, five tips by…

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“You can’t download goosebumps”, says saxophonist Tom Beek. “We are everywhere online, the world is at our feet. And yet, music is above all an experience.” On the eve of North Sea Jazz 2014, the musician takes us on a musical world tour and shares his five 5 tips.

How often are you enchanted by a new sound? How long ago did you close your eyes to enjoy a newly discovered artist? How big the chance to discover music from Lebanon of Mali? Jazz saxophonist Tom Beek takes us around the world with his five North Sea Jazz tips for great talent.

1. Lebanon, Ibrahim Maalouf

We start our trip in Lebanon. Here the French-Lebanese trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf  was born in 1980 in Beirut. With his family he fled to Paris, where as a child he already performed together with his father. Few years later his talent is discovered by the famous Maurice André. Maalouf attends the academy of music, wins awards and slowly becomes a great classical trumpet talent.

But not only that. Improvising and composing are also in his blood. Thanks to his dad, he says. “I was always in my own world playing and improvising. Sort of to protect myself against influences from outside. From my dad I inherited music and love.”  Maalouf is a strong personality with the looks of a rock star, who puts a musical spell on his public with a mix of jazz, hip hop and influences from the Arab world. His instrument is unique. An extra valve on his trumpet makes it possible for him to play micro tunes and Arab maqams. With his performance he offers a wonderful mix of Western and Oriental music.

2. United States, Esperanza Spalding

And off we go to the ghetto of Ohio where a young girl grows up with only a mom. A fragile, bass player who writes and sings her own songs. From the beginning there was something special about Esperanza Spalding (1984).

As a child she was often ill and she found comfort in music. As a toddler she taught herself to play violin and double bass. Everywhere she went, she was noticed as a talented young woman, who worked very hard.

After winning the Grammy for ‘Best New Artist’ in 2008 she became well known among an international public. And rightly so. Spalding kept her promise. Modern jazz, classical music, and Stevie Wonder: there is room for everything in Spalding’s music. There are simply no boundaries. What stays is an ongoing fire. Esperanza Spalding is a magical story with a new and special sound.

3. Norway, Marius Neset

Put on an extra coat. Let’s go to Norway, famous for its fantastic cultural climate. Saxophonist Marius Neset (1985) from Bergen is a successful exponent of this culture.

A talent that is enormous. You have to see Neset live. His drive has not yet been matched by others and his contagious energy shows that the best jazz not necessarily comes from New York.

Already at the age of 5, Marius started playing the drums and came in contact with complex music. He spent a lot of time on the Norwegian fjords and was inspired by many musicians and composers such as Edward Grieg.

His music composes of intellectual richness. Neset is a very gifted composer and known for his wonderful finds and pranks no matter who he is playing with.

4. The Netherlands, Reinier Baas

Back to our own country because The Netherlands offers a lot of talent. Guitarist composer and leader of the band Reinier Baas (Hilversum, 1985) is one of them. A man with a plan. He was one of the students of jazz guru Jesse van Ruller and was discovered in 2010. Baas was to be found more and more between Dutch top musicians. He  is seen as one of the few young talents who have an unique own sound.

With his allstar-groep ‘More Socially Relevant Jazz Music’ he really made name. But most important, his music is very, very good and full of pleasure and fresh energy.

His music is more than jazz alone. It is a mix of indie, contemporary classic and improvised music. His musical adventures are accompanied by literary phrases and rebellious visual stories.

Baas is the future of Dutch music. Keep an eye on him.

5. Mali, Vieux Farka Touré

And then back to Africa. To Mali to a small village on the banks of the river Niger. There the son of famous guitarist Ali Farka Touré, Vieux Farka Touré is born in 1981. He follows the same difficult path as his dad. His family wants him to be a soldier but he wants to be a musician and for years he practices in secrecy.

The music wins. This ‘Jimi Hendrix of the Sahara’ also takes over the social role of his dad: 10% of his income is donated for the fight against malaria — a serious threat for children in the region of Timbuktu.

And what about the music? Vieux Farka Touré — a real man of the world who speaks eight languages  — has found a beautiful mix between West-African music and American blues.

The more he experiments and steps out of the shadow of his father, the better he gets. A highlight was his performance during the World Cup in South-Africa. Vieux Farka Touré is an innovator, an impressive and very good guitarist and above all a charming personality.

On his albums he flirts with all types of music styles and has guest performances with musicians from all over the world: jazz, Latin and Jewish music. A creative artist who looks forward with respect for the past.

All musicians perform at North Sea Jazz fesival in Rotterdam on 11,12,13 juli 2014.

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