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REIN DE GRAAFF

Summary | Biography | Discography | Photos | Audio/Video

Rein de Graaff

Period

24-10-1942 - current

Genre

jazz, piano

Rein de Graaff

Rein de Graaff (Groningen, 24 October 1942) gains fame as the accompanist of tens, if not hundreds of American jazz soloists. He starts out as a self-taught musician in trad jazz bands, but develops into a versatile pianist. He makes a name for himself through his quartet with the tenor ...
Full biography

Instruments

piano

Mentioned in the biography of

1970   Max Teawhistle
1981   Max Bolleman
1985   Frits Landesbergen
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Biography Rein de Graaff

Rein de Graaff (Groningen, 24 October 1942) gains fame as the accompanist of tens, if not hundreds of American jazz soloists. He starts out as a self-taught musician in trad jazz bands, but develops into a versatile pianist. He makes a name for himself through his quartet with the tenor and soprano saxophonist Dick Vennik. Since the eighties De Graaff has been concentrating on the bebop as it was invented in the forties and further developed in the fifties.

1958 - 1966

Rein de Graaff takes some classical lessons, but on the whole finds his own way on the piano. He starts playing Dixieland in a school band. He has a sharp ear, which will later stand him in good stead as a session musician, and he manages to hold his own on stage for a number of years before he is initiated in the principles of the theory of harmony. He works with Groningen musicians like the saxophonists Jenne Meinema and Roel Hemmes. When he moves to Amsterdam in 1964, he starts a quartet with saxophonist Dick Vennik, which will last for a few decades, and occasionally decides to abandon chords.

1967 - 1979

In the fall of 1967 De Graaff pays his first visit to New York. He is just on holiday, but gets to meet many of his heroes (Kenny Dorham, Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan, Donald Byrd), and jam with them all night long. At the same time he realizes the romanticized jazz life does have its shadow sides. Even more so than in Europe talented musicians in New York have to try and make a living playing bar gigs that are scarce as it is. The pianist therefore decides to join his father's company: a wholesale business in electronic equipment. He manages to become the company's director, end expands the R.L. de Graaff Inc. over the years. For three decades he leads an unlikely double life: businessman during the daytime, jazz musician at night. He keeps performing with Vennik, and an encyclopedia's worth of jazz legends, like Johnny Griffin, Art Taylor, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Stitt and Philly Joe Jones. In 1968 his greatest idol, Hank Mobley, comes to stay with him in his home town of Veendam. On 6 February 1979 another one of Rein de Graaff's dreams comes true: he records an LP in New York as the leader of a quintet consisting of prominent American jazz musicians: Tom Harrell (trumpet & flugelhorn), Ronnie Cuber (baritone sax), Sam Jones (bass) and Louis Hayes (drums). The album New York Jazz is released by the Timeless label. After some personnel changes in his Dutch trio Eric Ineke becomes his regular drummer (from 1970) and Koos Serierse his regular bassist (from the mid seventies). In the late nineties Marius Beets takes over on bass.

1980 - 2011

In the eighties De Graaff receives two important Dutch jazz awards: the Boy Edgar Prize (1980) and the Bird Award (1986). Agents become less interested in organizing tours with American soloists: the stars bring their own accompanists, and lesser known musicians are not considered lucrative enough. De Graaff therefore starts organizing short tours himself. In 1980 he gets Charlie Rouse to come to the Netherlands. Many other Americans will follow. Having taken on board stars like Pepper Adams, Teddy Edwards and Ronnie Cuber the pianist starts to look for the 'lost heroes': forgotten, sometimes hard to trace musicians like James Clay, Louis Smith and Webster Young. The latter trumpeter has been declared dead by historians, but De Graaff digs him out, and tours the Dutch clubs with him. This is part of a project that he started in 1987 as the Crash Course in Bebop, a series of educational concerts, initiated by the Vredenburg Music Center in Utrecht (later continued under the title Follow-up Course in Bebop). For every course De Graaff has different guest soloists flown in. This, and many more can be read in his autobiography Belevenissen in Bebop (Uitgeverij Passage, 1997), which De Graaff writes in conjunction with writer Coen de Jonge. The collaboration with Dick Vennik dwindles, since the saxophonist feels less at home in the bop tradition to which Rein de Graaff has returned. The authenticity in his playing is astonishing. When he does a joint concert with Barry Harris it is sometimes hard to distinguish between the two pianists. De Graaff himself states to journalist Jeroen de Valk (in the liner notes to the CD Nostalgia): 'I don't play like a pianist. I accompany like a drummer and I play solos like a saxophonist.'

Discography Rein de Graaff

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.

Photos Rein de Graaff

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