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CONTRABAND

Summary | Biography | Discography | Photos | Audio/Video

Genre

bigband, jazz

Contraband

As leader of the training orchestra De Boventoon trombonist and composer Willem van Manen (Amsterdam, 3 September 1940) has become used to writing for a large ensemble. In 1979 he decides to start his own big band, and calls it the Springband. He does an annual tour with the orchestra ...
Full biography

Members

Toon de Gouw   trompet
Louis Lanzing   trompet
Loet van der Lee   trompet
Willem van Manen   trombone
Hans Sparla   trombone
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Former members

Eric Boeren   trompet
Marc Charig   trompet
Ad Gruter   trompet
Willem Schoenmaker   trompet
Radu Malfatti   trombone
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Mentioned in the biography of

1982   Paul van Kemenade
1985   Toon de Gouw
1985   Willem Van Manen
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Biography Contraband

As leader of the training orchestra De Boventoon trombonist and composer Willem van Manen (Amsterdam, 3 September 1940) has become used to writing for a large ensemble. In 1979 he decides to start his own big band, and calls it the Springband. He does an annual tour with the orchestra until three of his band members die in a car crash in December 1983. He immediately disbands the group, but two years later, and after many considerations, he forms a new big band: the Contraband. In his compositions for both orchestras Van Manen tries to achieve a synthesis between the American big band tradition and innovative elements from (European) improvised en contemporary composed music. The band again tours annually until its leader decides to disband the Contraband in 2004 because of embouchure problems.

1979 - 1983

Between 1973 and 1979 Willem van Manen leads the training orchestra De Boventoon. He likes the size of the ensemble, but becomes increasingly dissatisfied with the changing personnel of the band. He decides to form his own big band, and calls it the Springband. He recruits both young (the saxophonists Ab Baars and Maarten van Norden, trombonist Joep Maessen, pianist Ron van Rossum) and established (Sean Bergin and Martin van Duynhoven) Dutch talent, as well as musicians from the international improvisation scene, like the English trumpeter Marc Charig, the Austrian trombonist Radu Malfatti and the South African bassist Harry Miller. The orchestra meets annually to do a tour. On 27 November 1983 the band plays in Baarle-Nassau, near the Belgian border. After the concert a van with members of the Springband heads back to Amsterdam. A storm blows the vehicle off the road, and it runs into a tree. Trumpeter Jeff Reynolds and trombonist Joep Maessen are killed instantly. Tenor saxophonist Maarten van Norden, trumpeter Louis Lanzing and bassist Harry Miller are heavily wounded. Van Norden and Lanzing recover after a long period of rehabilitation, but Miller succumbs to his wounds in hospital on 16 December 1983. Van Manen is devastated, and decides to disband his Springband altogether.

1985

Incited by colleagues Van Manen decides to form a new big band. He is very interested in the tension between the American big band tradition and innovations from (European) improvised music and contemporary composition. In order to have more tonal colors on his palette he uses a slightly different instrumentation than for the Springband. An important role is played by German clarinetists Theo Jörgensmann and Eckard Koltermann (who also plays the bass clarinet and baritone saxophone). Like the Springband the Contraband tours the Netherlands (and later also other countries) once a year, usually in the months of November and December. The leader writes most of the material, although other members of the orchestra sometimes contribute compositions – like Eckard Koltermann, trombonist Chris Abelen and saxophonist Frans Vermeerssen.

1988

The Contraband '88 records its first live CD at the Amsterdam Bimhuis. The album is released on the BVHaast-label.

1991

The NOS broadcasting company commissions a composition from Van Manen for the NOS Meervaart Festival. This becomes the three-part De Ruyter Suyte, dedicated to the grand old man of jazz on Dutch radio, Michiel de Ruyter. The piece is released on the CD bearing the same name.

1992

Willem van Manen is awarded the VPRO/Boy Edgar Prijs (the major Dutch jazz award). For the award ceremony he writes the Boy Edgar Suite, a tribute to one of his great predecessors as leader of a Dutch big band. The Contraband '94 performs the work, and records it for a CD released by broadcasting company VPRO's EigenWijs label.

1998

The Contraband '97 enters the studio during its annual tour and records four compositions by Van Manen and one by Abelen for the CD Hittit.

2001

BVHaast releases the CD Pale Fire, for which the Contraband '00 had made recordings the year before. A remarkable piece on the album is So Long S, dedicated to trumpeter Willem Schoenmaker, who played in the orchestra from 1995-1998, and suddenly died on 14 December 1999.

2004

Because he feels that his embouchure is dwindling Willem van Manen decides to quit playing the trombone. This also means the end of the Contraband. Some twenty years of composing and taking care of the orchestra's business affairs is enough for him. The final edition of the band records one last CD in January. It is released as The Painter by the classical record label Attacca Babel.

Discography Contraband

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.

Audio/Video Contraband

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