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Portret van Dick de Graaf


17-11-1954 - current


fluit, improvised, jazz, sopraansaxofoon, tenorsaxofoon, world


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Dick de Graaf

During his conservatory study Dick de Graaf (Nijkerk, 17 November 1954) already makes his entry on the Dutch jazz scene. He can be found both in more mainstream groups and big bands and in progressive formations. He describes his own saxophone sound as 'a warm saxophone tone of someone who ...
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fluit, sopraansaxofoon, tenorsaxofoon

Mentioned in the biography of

1982   Albert van Veenendaal
1987   Arnold Dooyeweerd

Biography Dick de Graaf

During his conservatory study Dick de Graaf (Nijkerk, 17 November 1954) already makes his entry on the Dutch jazz scene. He can be found both in more mainstream groups and big bands and in progressive formations. He describes his own saxophone sound as 'a warm saxophone tone of someone who wants to get the most out of his instrument. [...] I am a guy who puts incredible passion and great fun into his playing.' (interview with Peter J. Korten). He soon starts forming groups of his own. His broad musical taste develops more and more, and in the course of his career he has undertaken projects featuring crossovers with tango (Trio Nuevo), African music (Les Sofas de Bamako), classical music (Schubert) and rock (Jimi Hendrix project, CRY BABY!). Jazz remains the steady factor in all of this, and he keeps a regular jazz quartet working most of the time. He himself puts it like this: 'I see jazz as a hospitable reception room for visits from music from all over the world. It makes you richer, and it yields more jagged forms.' (interview with Coen de Jonge).

Played in

Clazz Ensemble   fluit, sopraansaxofoon, tenorsaxofoon
Trio Nuevo  
Utrechts Improvisatie Laboratorium (uil)   saxofoon

1980 - 1984

During his studies at the Rotterdam Conservatory Dick de Graaf plays in the saxophone quartet Nieuw Rotterdams Peil. Together with pianist Albert van Veenendaal and Greek drummer Nikos Tsilogiannis he starts De Trio in his home town Utrecht, which soon continues as De Duo, without the percussionist. In this line-up they take part in the competition of the 1981 NOS Meervaart Festival, and manage to win the final. A renewed collaboration with Nikos Tsilogiannis takes place in the latter's quintet, which has Arnold Dooyeweerd on bass, Albert van Veenendaal again on piano and Jeff Reynolds on trumpet. De Graaf is also in demand in the saxophone sections of various big bands. Bassist John Clayton and the trumpeters Jeff Reynolds (Maiden Voyage) and Frank Grasso include him in the personnel of their respective orchestras. Trumpeter Edu Ninck Blok, whom he has met in the Frank Grasso Big Band, invites him to join the Amstel Octet.

Albert van Veenendaal Edu Ninck Blok Frank Grasso Nikos Tsilogiannis

1984 - 1986

He starts his own group: a quartet with pianist Willem Kühne, bassist Eric Calmes and drummer Frans van Grinsven. Two years later the band releases its debut album: Hot, Hazy And Humid. In Jazzjaarboek 6 critic Erik van den Berg calls the LP 'one of this year's strongest records [...] a solid, spicy mainstream which can rival with many a better known American example.' With the Amstel Octet De Graaf records two LPs: Amstel Crossing (1984) and Hazy Hugs (1985), the latter with trumpeter Chet Baker as a special guest.


Dick de Graaf introduces a septet with a special line-up. Experienced musicians, like trombonist Hans Sparla and bassist Arnold Dooyeweerd share the stage with young talents like pianist Gé Bijvoet, drummer Pieter Bast and bassist Egon Kracht, who replaces Dooyeweerd in 1991. With an instrumentation of violin, saxophone, trombone, guitar, piano, bass and drums the composer De Graaf has a good sound palette at his disposal. In 1989 the NOS broadcasting company commissions a composition for the NOS Meervaart Festival, which he performs with the septet. In the same year the group's debut CD, November, is released by the Zon en Maan label, to be followed by Polder in 1991. The group plays at festivals in Germany, Finland and Ireland, and extensively tours Canada.

Arnold Dooyeweerd Egon Kracht

1988 - 1992

Bassist Niko Langenhuijsen asks De Graaf to come and play tenor sax in his group Vaalbleek Vokaal. He can be heard on the CD Lonely Hearts, which appears in 1989. In the spring of 1990 the saxophonist forms a special quartet, with pianist Misha Mengelberg, bassist Arnold Dooyeweerd and drummer John Engels. Trumpeter Eric Vloeimans and De Graaf are the co-leaders of a new quintet, called Chazz!, which employs Niko Langenhuijsen on piano, Eric Calmes on bass and Hans Eijkenaar on drums. The group plays an energetic kind of hard-bop, and records only one CD, Passing The Bar. In January 1991 the saxophonist again co-leads a group, a quartet with French guitarist Serge Lazarevitch. The band extensively tours Italy. He can also be heard in pianist Jasper van 't Hof's quartet, with the Canadian trumpeter Kenny Wheeler as a special guest, which does a tour of South Africa. He plays a Glenn Miller program with the Timeless Orchestra (a big band led by Jos Beeren) for two years.

Eric Calmes Eric Vloeimans Jasper van 't Hof John Engels Misha Mengelberg Niko Langenhuijsen

1994 - 1996

De Graaf starts a new quintet with saxophone colleague Tony Lakatos , which finds a home with the new Challenge label. Hein Van de Geyn, founder of this company, awards Dick de Graaf the Challenge Award in 1995. To celebrate this occasion the laureate presents his European Quintet, featuring the English trumpeter Gerard Presencer. With his quartet he tours Burkina Faso, Senegal and Mali in 1996. In the latter country he starts a project at the music department of Institut National des Arts (INA), with financial support of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Hein Van de Geyn


With a new version of his septet (featuring Wim Bronnenberg as the new guitarist, Eric Calmes replacing bassist Egon Kracht, and Konkie Halmeyer on steelpans taking pianist Gé Bijvoet's place) Dick de Graaf undertakes a project featuring the music of Jimi Hendrix. The Burning Of The Midnight Lamp is the title of the project, and the CD, eventually released by VIA Records.


Back in Mali Dick de Graaf records the CD Djigui in Salif Keita's studio, featuring a group of young local musicians, Les Sofas de Bamako. In June 2000 the combination plays the Tilburg festival Mundial. In 2005 they are featured again at a festival in the Malian capital Ouagadougou.

2000 - 2003

Portret van Dick de Graaf Dick de Graaf performs as a guest with pianist Peter Martin's trio in New Orleans. They make a recording, which will eventually find its way onto CD under the title Soundroots. To promote the album the saxophonist starts a new European Quartet, featuring the Italian pianist Andrea Pozza. The group displays an eclectic repertoire, featuring reworkings of music by The Who, Stevie Wonder and Ludwig van Beethoven. It gives the Swiss conductor Mario Venzago the idea to ask De Graaf for a contribution to the 2002 Schubert Festival in Basel. De Graaf arranges themes from the Unfinished Symphony, the String Quintet in C and the song Der Tod und das Mädchen for his special European Quartet. The CD made of the recordings (on the Swiss label DiVox), is presented a year later at the North Sea Jazz Festival.


Percussionist Ruben van Rompaey invites De Graaf to participate in the group Istanbul Connection, featuring the Turkish (fretless) guitarist Erkan Ogur. The band does a series of successful concerts in the Netherlands and Turkey. In 2006 the Turkish label Kalan releases a CD by the band.

Ruben van Rompaey


In order to combine Astor Piazzolla's tango music with jazz arrangements and improvisations De Graaf starts his Trio Nuevo. For this trombonist Hans Sparla picks up his second instrument, the accordion. Violinist Michael Gustorff, another member of the former septet, completes the line-up. With singer Sandra Coelers and bassist Harry Emmery as guests the group does a Dutch theater tour for Jazz Impuls in the 2007-'08 season. In addition Trio Nuevo and Sandra Coelers do a number of tours in Germany and Switzerland.

Hans Sparla


De Graaf forms a new quartet, with pianist Jeroen van Vliet, bassist Guus Bakker and drummer Pascal Vermeer. Their debut CD, Moving Target, is released in 2007. The band gives concerts in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland. In February 2009 the quartet tours Cuba and Costa Rica.

Guus Bakker Jeroen van Vliet Pascal Vermeer


Together with trumpeter Gerard Kleijn he takes the initiative to found the Clazz Ensemble, to bridge the gap between jazz and (contemporary) composition. The small big band line-up features musicians from both worlds. The ensemble's musical leaders invite composers from both sectors to write material for the group. They release a CD of their first project, Avonturen, in 2009.

Gerard Kleijn


De Graaf founds the quartet CRY BABY!, featuring the young guitarist Jerôme Hol, bassist Harry Emmery and drummer Erik Kooger. Their debut CD is presented at the Rotterdam pop venue WATT!, and a series of concerts at Dutch jazzclubs soon follows.

Erik Kooger Harry Emmery Jerôme Hol

2010 - 2011

De Graaf does improvisations on the cello suites of Bach and initiates the project Out Of The Blues, in which he performs the music of saxofonist/composer Oliver Nelson, along with Arno Krijger (hammond organ) and Pascal Vermeer (drums).

Discography Dick de Graaf

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 Dick de Graaf

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