Ben van den Dungen (Den Haag, 29 October 1960) experiences some tempestuous years with the quintet he co-leads with trumpeter Jarmo Hoogendijk. 'You should play like you just had twenty cups of coffee!' is what he says to a tired bassist. The energetic saxophonist also makes a mark as an ... Full biography
Ben van den Dungen (Den Haag, 29 October 1960) experiences some tempestuous years with the quintet he co-leads with trumpeter Jarmo Hoogendijk. 'You should play like you just had twenty cups of coffee!' is what he says to a tired bassist. The energetic saxophonist also makes a mark as an organizer, teacher, and one of the driving forces behind Nueva Manteca, and an interview partner who likes to call a spade a spade. From the mid nineties he takes his life and music on a somewhat slower pace.
After some ramblings Van den Dungen finds himself at a training course for cooks and waiters. But when he hears a record by the African saxophonist Fela Kuti he decides he wants to become a saxophonist, too. After only two years of studying the instrument he is accepted at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. The newly fledged jazz department is characterized by teachers who often make a no-show, and have little experience in teaching, but Van den Dungen considers Ruud Brink and Sandy Mosse inspiring personalities, and he learns a great deal from Ferdinand Povel and Sal Nistico. Since he prefers to work in small bands he starts his own quintet with a fellow student, trumpeter Jarmo Hoogendijk.
1985 - 1994
The Ben van den Dungen/Jarmo Hoogendijk Quintet wins the 1985 competition of the NOS Jazz Festival. It is the first proof that the jazz courses at the Dutch conservatories do yield interesting results. The group develops into a main attraction in the Netherlands and West-Germany, partly because they never shy away from hard work, and do all of the promotion and booking themselves. The quintet finally achieves its best line-up with pianist Rob van Bavel, bassist Harry Emmery and drummer Eric Ineke. In its first years the group isn't awarded any government subsidy, since the band isn't considered innovative enough. In every interview Van den Dungen stresses that not all music with chords and a strict tempo should be dismissed as 'bebop'. In the meantime he manages to graduate with honors from the conservatory.
1994 - 2004
The intense stage collaboration with Jarmo Hoogendijk continues until the trumpeter – because of embouchure problems after a failed operation in Canada – is unable to perform after 2004. The two remain colleagues at the Rotterdam Conservatory, where they both teach. Van den Dungen gains experience in all kinds of world music, especially with Nueva Manteca, an Afro-Cuban band that performs all over the world. The fruit of a study trip to India can be found on the CD How2be Enlightened In 48 Hours by the band How2be. For a number of years he leads the jazz department in Rotterdam, where he introduces a course in cultural entrepreneurship.
After some wild decades Van den Dungen's life takes on a slower pace. Rik Mol, one of Hoogendijk's former students, takes over many of his teacher's tasks. About his teaching practice Van den Dungen tells the following to Jacques Los in 2005: 'It is a misconception that improvising 'just happens' to you; that one day is better than another. What matters is whether you have studied a vocabulary. Improvising is practicing, reproducing, combining and associating, and only a very small part is that which you have never played before.' When Hein Van de Geyn takes over as director of the Rotterdam jazz department in 2008 Van den Dungen plays more and more – with Nueva Manteca, the Quinteto Tango Extremo (led by his girlfriend, violinist Tanya Schaap), and Motion Unlimited, a large orchestra that plays pop, jazz, classical and world music, and shows films to go with it.
In the discography you will find all recordings that have been released listed chronologically. We restrict ourselves to the title, the type of audio, year of publication or recording, label, list of guest musicians, plus any comments on the issue.