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Portret Jan Menu in stoel


13-06-1962 - current


altsaxofoon, baritonsaxofoon, improvised, jazz, sopraansaxofoon, tenorsaxofoon


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Jan Menu

In the 1980s Jan Menu (Kloosterzande, Zeeuws-Vlaanderen, 13 June 1962) develops into an eminent saxophonist, a mainstay in many orchestras with a variety of styles. At first he mainly plays the alto and tenor saxophone, but gradually the baritone becomes his main instrument. As a child Jan Menu receives piano ...
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altsaxofoon, baritonsaxofoon, sopraansaxofoon, tenorsaxofoon

Mentioned in the biography of

1986   Greetje Kauffeld
2008   Greetje Kauffeld
2013   Fay Claassen
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Biography Jan Menu

In the 1980s Jan Menu (Kloosterzande, Zeeuws-Vlaanderen, 13 June 1962) develops into an eminent saxophonist, a mainstay in many orchestras with a variety of styles. At first he mainly plays the alto and tenor saxophone, but gradually the baritone becomes his main instrument. As a child Jan Menu receives piano lessons and takes his first steps as a saxophonist in the local brass band St. Cecilia. He studies agricultural sciences at Wageningen University for a short while, and soon switches to the Technical University Twente in Enschede. It turns out that a technical education is not for him, because jazz starts to dominate his life more and more. Jan Menu starts gigging on alto saxophone whenever he can in the Enschede area. For jazz aficionados it has become clear by then that there is a bright future for him in jazz. He himself sees this too, for he opts for a conservatory training.

Played in

Zijlstra   saxofoon


He enters the Hilversum Conservatory, and graduates in 1990 with degrees in both musical education and performance. In addition to his studies he leads an active life as a musician, being an in demand saxophonist in various ensembles.


Dig d'Diz is formed. This remarkable trio starts out without a drummer, simply because there is no money to employ one. Because the trio of Jan Menu and his soulmates, guitarist Maarten van der Grinten and bassist Jan Voogd, seems to be working well, they decide to continue as a threesome: Dig d'Diz (Drie is goedkoper, de Drummer is ziek – Three is cheaper, the drummer is ill) is born. Concerts and the 1991 and 1997 CDs, including one with the Mondriaan String Quartet, receive favorable reviews. In the course of its existence the chamber jazz trio makes the unique blend of tradition, avant-garde and other genres its trademark. Dig d'Diz performs at many stages both at home and abroad, including the Amsterdam Bimhuis, the North Sea Jazz Festival and the Paris Museé d'Art. (It is all the more remarkable that the new CD, Dig d'Diz One Too, featuring a bonus DVD, recorded at the Amsterdam Robeco Jazz Café, doesn't appear until 2009).


Singer Greetje Kauffeld asks Jan Menu to replace Ruud Brink as her accompanist. With her trio he visits the States in 1992, with performances in clubs and at festivals in Los Angeles, San Diego and Palm Springs. Jan Menu can be heard on tenor saxophone with the Greetje Kauffeld trio on three CDs. His musical development now takes on a faster pace, starting with the first version of his Jan Menu Quartet. He also becomes a member of orchestras like Peter Ypma Plus Eleven and the Timeless Big Band. In 1989 he wins the Loosdrecht Jazz Concours (a competition for young jazz talent), gaining him the Wessel Ilcken trophy. The jury praises his melodic playing, his individual phrasing, his harmonic insight and his musical personality. As a guest soloist he is featured in various groups, such as the Wim Overgaauw Trio, the Jesse van Ruller Quartet and the Metropole Orchestra. In 1991 he performs at the North Sea Jazz Festival in pianist Joanne Brackeen and guitarist Charlie Byrd's band.


Parallel to his activities as a practicing jazz musician he starts teaching at three conservatories in the nineties. From 1992 to 1994 he teaches saxophone to major students at the light music department of the Utrecht Conservatory. From 1992 to 1996 he teaches improvised music at the Amsterdam Sweelinck Conservatory, and from 1994 to 2000 he teaches saxophone to major students in jazz at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague.


He becomes a regular member of singer Laura Fygi's backing band. With her he records several CDs including a 2003 live registration of a concert at Ronnie Scott's Club in London. The group does a week's stint at this internationally renowned jazzclub.


He has an intense experience subbing in the Mingus Big Band. For a week and a half Jan Menu tours Europe with this famous American band in the summer of 1994. He replaces baritone saxophonist Ronnie Cuber at the latter's request, in a band that features trumpeters Randy Brecker and Ryan Kisor, tenorists Craig Handy and John Stubblefield, and trombonist Ku-umba Frank Lacy. From 1994 he is also running a bureau for music management and jazz productions. Jan Menu Productions starts out as the management for his own projects, and the bands in which he participates.


He joins the saxophone section of the newly formed New Concert Big Band (under the direction of Henk Meutgeert). From 1997 Jan Menu also takes care of the business affairs of the orchestra. In this capacity he is involved in the talks which will lead to the association of the big band with the Amsterdam Concertgebouw in 1999. The ensemble now takes on the new name of the Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw. The band collaborates with a variety of celebrities, like drummer Elvin Jones and opera diva Jessye Norman. One of the most memorable concerts is one in which the American tenorists Johnny Griffin, James Carter and Joe Lovano pit their strengths against the orchestra's. Jan Menu can be heard on a number of the band's CDs.


Pierre Courbois asks him for his Double Quintet. For the line-up the drummer's regular quintet is extended with a five piece reed section. The group tours and records a CD. In a later Courbois project, upon being awarded the 2008 Boy Edgar Prijs (the major Dutch jazz award), Jan Menu is again one of the musicians.


From 2001 Jan Menu is co-initiator and member of the jury for the annual Deloitte Jazz Award (20.000 euro), intended as a stimulus for promising jazz talent.


In memory of Chet Baker Menu decides to produce a double CD with music by the famous Gerry Mulligan Quartet. The first CD of the album Two Portraits of Chet Baker Fay Claassen sings two-part pieces, with Jan Menu on baritone saxophone, with a rhythmic backing by Hein Van de Geyn (double bass) and John Engels (drums). On the other CD trumpeter Jan Wessels and pianist Karel Boehlee take Jan Menu's place. Besides playing the baritone sax, he also participates in this project as arranger and producer. Other Dutch and foreign musicians also make use of his services in this area. For alto saxophonist Piet Noordijk, for instance, he produces the CD Piet Plays Bird (VIA Jazz 9920302, 1997).

Fay Claassen


It goes without saying that Zeeland born Jan Menu cordially supports the jazzclub Porgy & Bess in Terneuzen. In the past decades he had played there with many bands. A special mention should go to a concert by pianist Rein de Graaff's trio in December 2006, featuring Jan Menu and his American fellow baritone saxophonist Gary Smulyan. Menu also starts playing with pianist Rembrandt Frerichs. Both in duets and in other combinations Jan Menu plays his role on soprano and baritone saxophone with Frerichs.


Jan Menu thinks up and co-organizes the contemporary revival of the legendary night concerts at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, harking back to the fifties and sixties of the previous century.


He starts the label Dig Diz Music, which kicks off with two releases. The first is Dig d'Diz One Too, the second one Mulligan Moods. The latter album is in fact Jan Menu's first CD as a leader, put out on the occasion of a short tour of the Netherlands and Japan. On this homage to Gerry Mulligan as a baritone saxophonist and especially as a composer Jan Menu is assisted by guitarist Jesse van Ruller, bassist Clemens van der Feen and drummer Joost van Schaik. In November he can be heard with Greetje Kauffeld and the Konrad Kosselleck Big Band in the program 20 Jahr Mauerfall. Pianist-componist Loek Dikker's revived Waterland Sextet, with Jan Menu on tenor sax tours the Netherlands in December with brand new compositions.

Discography Jan Menu

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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