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DICK VENNIK

Summary | Biography | Discography | Photos | Audio/Video

Period

04-06-1940 - current

Genre

arrangeur, basklarinet, componist, fluit, jazz, sopraansaxofoon, tenorsaxofoon

Dick Vennik

Dick Vennik (Alkmaar, 4 June 1940) is a mainstay in Dutch jazz without having to resort to spectacle. For half a century he has been manifesting himself as an honest, hard working soloist and studio musician. In the jazz scene he is best known for his work with the Rein ...
Full biography

Instruments

arrangeur, basklarinet, componist, fluit, sopraansaxofoon, tenorsaxofoon

Mentioned in the biography of

1970   Max Teawhistle
1972   Ritmo Natural

Biography Dick Vennik

Dick Vennik (Alkmaar, 4 June 1940) is a mainstay in Dutch jazz without having to resort to spectacle. For half a century he has been manifesting himself as an honest, hard working soloist and studio musician. In the jazz scene he is best known for his work with the Rein de Graaff/Dick Vennik Quartet and the band Free Fair. He also draws up a mileage as a studio musician; especially as a member of the Metropole Orchestra. He sometimes cautiously opens the door to free improvisation, calling it 'controlled madness'.

Played in

Skymasters   saxofoon

1962 - 1973

Dick Vennik plays clarinet in a symphonic wind band and teaches himself to play the saxophone by playing along to records by Sonny Rollins and later John Coltrane. During his military service he plays alto saxophone in a band in order to escape all kinds of military exercises. In absence of a proper saxophone teacher he takes private lessons on flute, piano and music theory. Without the help of a conservatory he passes his state exam on flute. In 1962 he meets pianist Rein de Graaff, when the both of them participate in the Loosdrecht Jazz Competition. 'We were competitors, but we also liked each other's playing, and said so. In those years we were firm believers in bebop. I was heavily into Sonny Rollins,' he tells Jeroen de Valk in 1989. Two years later they start the Rein de Graaff/Dick Vennik Quartet. The group will exist for 25 years, against all trends in music. 'The whole jazz scene was flat on its back, The Beatles were on the rise, and we just saw the final days of the Sheherazade (a famous Amsterdam jazz club). The fees varied from five to ten guilders a head.' The quartet starts playing pure hardbop, in the wake of Dexter Gordon, Art Blakey and Johnny Griffin. Later on they adopt Coltrane's modal improvisations and still later a whiff of free improvisation. 'Sometimes we cook up a storm; then you get what I call “controlled madness”.' Nevertheless the quartet is often accused of not taking enough liberties. Hence the group also goes against the Zeitgeist of the heydays of free jazz.

1974 - 1988

By now Vennik is an in demand studio musician. He plays in the Skymasters big band and various studio formations. In the eighties and nineties he has a regular position with the Metropole Orchestra. But he also remains active as a jazz musician. Together with pianist Rob van den Broeck he starts a second quartet in 1974: Free Fair. The group takes some cautious steps in the direction of jazz-rock fusion, until Van den Broeck tires of lifting the heavy keyboards of the day. Thirty years later Free Fair still reunites occasionally, sometimes extended with eight brass players, usually the Metropole Orchestra's complete trumpet and trombone sections. This results in a grand, rich group timbre. At the 1980 NOS Jazzfestival Free Fair + 8 receives a standing ovation. Vennik, an expert on soprano and tenor saxophone, also plays jazz on flute and bass clarinet. He takes his inspiration for these secondary instruments originally from Eric Dolphy.

1989 - 2011

In 1989 the band with Rein de Graaff draws attention in a sextet line-up, featuring trombonist Bart van Lier and trumpeter Jarmo Hoogendijk. Soon after the quartet disbands. De Graaff returns to his bebop roots, but Vennik prefers to look ahead: 'Rein is still playing A Night In Tunisia and Confirmation. That belongs to the past for me.' In good harmony they both go their separate ways. After having retired from the Metropole Orchestra Vennik remains active, albeit on a backburner. Free Fair sometimes gives concerts with the eight brass players. In addition the elder statesman of jazz performs as a sideman in theater tours and can be heard as a guest soloist with various bands, including singer Colette Wickenhagen's.

Discography Dick Vennik

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 Dick Vennik

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