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Arjen Gorter


02-01-1948 - current


contrabas, improvised, jazz, producer

Arjen Gorter

In the mid sixties Arjen Gorter (Amsterdam, 2 January 1948) strikes up a musical friendship with reed player Willem Breuker, which will continue till Breuker passed away in 2010. Together they participate in Gunter Hampel's group, leading to more contacts in Germany, for instance with saxophonist Rüdiger Carl and trumpeter ...
Full biography


contrabas, producer

Mentioned in the biography of

1966   Kees Hazevoet
1967   Willem Breuker
1969   Burton Greene
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Biography Arjen Gorter

In the mid sixties Arjen Gorter (Amsterdam, 2 January 1948) strikes up a musical friendship with reed player Willem Breuker, which will continue till Breuker passed away in 2010. Together they participate in Gunter Hampel's group, leading to more contacts in Germany, for instance with saxophonist Rüdiger Carl and trumpeter Manfred Schoof. Shortly after Breuker starts his Kollektief in 1974, Gorter is one of the musicians he adds to the basic group. In addition to his work with the Willem Breuker Kollektief Gorter is an in-demand sideman with various groups, including those led by Theo Loevendie, Leo Cuypers, Nedly Elstak and Frank van Bommel.

Played in

I Compani   contrabas
Willem Breuker Kollektief   contrabas

1965 - 1966

Arjen Gorter participates in Theo Loevendie's workshops in the Amsterdam youth center FAMOS. He initially plays the guitar, but later switches to double bass. Willem Breuker, whom he has met at the AMVJ Jazz Competition and at sessions in the east of Amsterdam, asks him to join his 23 piece orchestra, which performs the composition Litany For The 14th Of June, 1966 at the 1966 Loosdrecht Jazz Competition. The performance yields a great scandal, and the jury decides not to award first prize to Breuker. At the rehearsal for the performance Gorter, asked by Breuker as a guitarist, shows up with a double bass. From that moment on Arjen Gorter is a bassist.

Theo Loevendie Willem Breuker

1967 - 1969

At Breuker's instigation the German vibraphonist, flutist and bass clarinetist Gunter Hampel includes Arjen Gorter in his group, of which drummer Pierre Courbois is already a member. They perform at the jazz festival in Ljubljana. A year later the bassist can be heard on the LP Gunter Hampel Group & Jeanne Lee (on the Wergo label). He is also present on the Hampel LPs The 8th Of July 1969 (1969) and People Symphony (1970). Strangely enough the group rarely performs in the Netherlands. In addition to his free jazz formation Hampel starts a jazz-rock band, featuring British drummer Laurie Allan and guitarist John McLaughlin, for which he asks the Dutchman to be the bassist. When McLaughlin makes his recording debut in 1969 with the album Extrapolation, he dedicates a tune to Gorter: Argen's (sic) Bag. Gorter's contacts in Germany lead to trumpeter Manfred Schoof asking him for the large group which records the LP European Echoes. With Breuker, Rob du Bois (piano, organ) and Han Bennink (drums) Gorter performs at the Amsterdam Stedelijk Museum in late 1969. Recordings of this concert find their way onto the double LP ICP 007/008 (with its striking 'chocolate box' packaging). The threesome (minus Du Bois) perform for the radio, and give a number of concerts at the Amsterdam Paradiso, featuring the American pianist Burton Greene, who has recently settled in Amsterdam.

Han Bennink Pierre Courbois Rob du Bois

1970 - 1974

Arjen Gorter works in Germany again, and can be seen on video with pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach's Globe Unity Orchestra. Gorter often performs at the Paradiso, twice with South African pianist Chris McGregor's group. He is also a member of saxophonist Rüdiger Carl and Swiss pianist Irène Schweizer's quartet, featuring Alan Blairman, Makayo Ntshoko or Louis Moholo as its drummer. In 1974 this band records an LP for the FMP label: Goose Pannée. The drummer here is Heinrich Hock. In May 1971 Hampel's group (including Breuker, Gorter and trombonist Willem van Manen) is featured in an opera by the German composer Hans Werner Henze: Der langwierige Weg in die Wohnung der Natascha Ungeheuer. Theo Loevendie, who remembers Gorter from his workshops, includes the bassist in the new edition of his Consort. He can be heard on the 1972 LP Chess!. From the Consort stems Loevendie's new Quartet, with tenor saxophonist Hans Dulfer, Gorter and drummer Martin van Duynhoven. The group produces two LP's: Theo Loevendie 4tet (1974) and Orlando (1977). Dulfer already knew Gorter from his own group Ritmo Natural, which recorded the LP Candy Clouds in 1970.

Hans Dulfer Martin van Duynhoven

1974 - 1976

Willem Breuker and pianist Leo Cuypers start the record label BVHaast. In June the horn player forms his Willem Breuker Kollektief, and since the FMP Workshop Freie Musik in Berlin (March 1975) Arjen Gorter is one of the mainstays. 35 years, and many Dutch, European and world tours later he is still the ensemble's regular bassist. In 1975 Breuker writes the music for a musical theater piece, La Plagiata, which he performs with his Kollektief in collaboration with the Baal theater company. Parts of it find their way onto the album Live In Berlin (jointly released by BVHaast and FMP ). In September Leo Cuypers performs his Johnny Rep Suite at the Amsterdam Shaffy Theater. Together with Kollektief drummer Rob Verdurmen Gorter forms the rhythm section; Breuker, Piet Noordijk and Hans Dulfer are the saxophonists. The recordings are released under the title Live In Shaffy as BVHaast 001. In 1975 Gorter starts his own quartet, with the saxophonists Maarten van Norden (tenor) and Ron Rem (alto), and again Verdurmen on drums. Another (ad hoc) quartet with Hans Dulfer, the American trombonist Roswell Rudd and drummer Martin van Duynhoven plays the Bimhuis in 1976. The recordings are released on LP under the title Maine.

Leo Cuypers Maarten van Norden Rob Verdurmen

1977 - 1979

Leo Cuypers receives a commission to write the Zeeland Suite. The ensemble, which can be heard at various places in the province of Zeeland, has two bassists, Harry Miller and Arjen Gorter. VPRO television films the production, and later the group enters the studio in order to release the result as BVHaast 012. Gorter is also the regular bassist in Cuypers's trio, where he finds Martin van Duynhoven by his side. Two of the Kollektief's horn players, saxophonist Maarten van Norden and trumpeter Boy Raaymakers, start their own quartet in 1977. They ask Arjen Gorter as their bassist and Rob Verdurmen as their drummer (later to be replaced by Petro Nykyruj). In 1979 they release the LP Chicken Song. In 1978 Gorter also participates in pianist and trumpeter Nedly Elstak's groups. The latter's Seven Singers And A Horn releases the LP Sad Trumpets in 1979.

Boy Raaymakers Harry Miller Nedly Elstak

1980 - 1981

Singer Soesja Citroen, with whom Gorter has worked in Seven Singers And A Horn, asks him to be the bassist in her sextet. Tenor saxophonist J.C. Tans starts a quartet with two bassists, Gorter and Ernst Glerum. At pianist Leo Cuypers's initiative Willem Breuker and Han Bennink join musical forces again after a great many years. The bassist in the group, called Heavy Days Are Here Again, is Arjen Gorter. An album is made of the recordings of the Bimhuis concert (BVHaast 037).

Jan Cees Tans Soesja Citroen

1982 - 1984

As bassist in the Willem Breuker Kollektief Arjen Gorter participates in recordings for De Mars and other productions by entertainer Freek de Jonge. Later the band is involved on stage in his show Stroman en Trawanten (1984).


Two young saxophonists, Tobias Delius and Daniele D'Agaro, start their own quartet and ask Arjen Gorter on bass and Petro Nykyruj on drums. Gorter is also featured in the studio at the side of pianist Misha Mengelberg and drummer Han Bennink, plus the Americans George Lewis (trombone) and Steve Lacy (soprano saxophone). Together they record the album Change Of Season, featuring compositions by pianist Herbie Nichols.

Daniele D'Agaro Misha Mengelberg Tobias Delius

1987 - 1992

When the Bimhuis's artistic director, Huub van Riel, organizes the international October Meeting Arjen Gorter is one of the musicians to receive an invitation. He also plays the second edition, in 1991. The American pianist Bill Gerhardt and the Spanish guitarist Pere Soto ask Arjen Gorter for their quartet, which has John Engels on drums. They record the CD Metanoic for the Riff label.

John Engels


Pianist Frank van Bommel forms a quartet to perform the music of the American pianist Dick Twardzik. Tenor saxophonist Tobias Delius and drummer Martin van Duynhoven are the other quartet member besides Gorter. Under the title A Crutch For The Crab BVHaast releases a CD of the project. Later Van Bommel extends the group into a quintet, by adding saxophonist and clarinetist Michael Moore. This line-up can be heard on the CD Ore.

Frank van Bommel Michael Moore


The Texan saxophonist and flutist Alex Coke, who joined the Willem Breuker Kollektief at Arjen Gorter's behest, starts a new group: New Texas Swing. Singer Tina Marsh, Gorter and drummer John Betsch complete the quartet. In 2001 the band releases a CD on the Creop Muse-label.


Bimhuis director Huub van Riel introduces saxophonist Sean Bergin to pianist Mal Waldron, who includes him in his new quartet, in which Arjen Gorter and drummer John Betsch are the other two musicians. The group plays regularly, but doesn't record. At the invitation of the Vereniging Noord-Hollandse Jazzpodia (Association of Jazzclubs in the province of North-Holland) pianist Frank van Bommel and Willem Breuker form a sextet with trumpeter Eric Vloeimans, Alex Coke, Gorter and drummer John Engels. The group tours the Netherlands with a project featuring the music of Eric Dolphy, entitled Dolphy 2000, which is eventually recorded on CD for BVHaast in 2001.

Eric Vloeimans Sean Bergin


Arjen Gorter's rhythm section partner from the Kollektief, Rob Verdurmen, starts the group Drummers Double Bill, in collaboration with drummer colleague Arend Niks. Gorter is the bassist of the octet, which records two CDs: S.O.S. (2003) and 2 Texel (2006).

Arend Niks


Arjen Gorter plays a guest role in cornetist Eric Boeren's 4tet (where he is Wilbert de Joode's temporary replacement). Saxophonist Bo van De Graaf adds him to his Bo's Art Trio (featuring pianist Michiel Braam and drummer Fred van Duynhoven). Pianist Herbert de Jonge engages Gorter for his new quartet, with saxophonist Esmée Olthuis and drummer Charles Huffstadt.

Eric Boeren Esmée Olthuis

2010 - 2011

Alto saxophonist Jorrit Dijkstra asks Gorter as bassist for a project featuring the music of Steve Lacy. Trombonist Joost Buis and drummer Yonga Sun complete the line-up.

I Compani Joost Buis Jorrit Dijkstra Yonga Sun

Discography Arjen Gorter

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.

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