Part Kronos Quartet, part new Dutch swing, VogelKwartet approaches avant-garde music from both the composition and improvisation territories. Allying an unusual instrumentation (pairing strings and brass) and multiple influences ranging from Bartok and Stravinsky to rock and jazz idioms, the group has produced a handful of challenging yet engaging music.
The quartet takes its name from leader Tjitze Vogel. A double bassist with credentials encompassing about every Amsterdam jazzman, from mainstream to marginal, Vogel has also accompanied international stars like Chet Baker and Joe Lovano. Also a composer, he decided to form this quartet to salvage a bunch of scores he had written that stood too far outside of jazz to be performed by his other regular outfits.
In the fall of 1997 he recruited three of his music friends: violinist Jasper Le Clercq still had his up-and-coming diaper on at the time; German-born bass clarinetist Lothar Ohlmeier was establishing himself as an improviser in Amsterdam; trombonist Joost Swinkels was already a solicited player in the symphonic world and a member of the funk brass band Say No More.
Such disparate influences and interests would probably have clashed very soon if it weren't for Vogel's leadership. A first CD, Eggs in Basket, was released in early 1998. Close to the bassist's vision, it blends jazz with contemporary music and the folk roots of Bartok's dance pieces, building its identity over its dichotomic double bass/bass clarinet and violin/trombone instrumentation. As the musicians learned to know each other, the group constructed its own identity, and South of No Border (1999) already broadened the palette through collaborations with Sandip Bhattacharya on tablas and Mohammed Gomar on oud and djoze. The 2001 CD Come to Catch Your Voice, featuring vocalist extraordinaire Jaap Blonk, attracted some international attention. This collection of songs on poems by Dylan Thomas remains the group's most personal offering. ~ François Couture, Rovi