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Paul Termos


15-01-1952 - 20-05-2003


altsaxofoon, componist, contemporary classical music, gitaar, improvised, jazz, klarinet

Paul Termos

Paul Termos (Hilversum, 15 January 1952 – Amsterdam, 20 May 2003) has one foot in the world of contemporary composition, and the other in jazz and improvised music. The choice of his musical partners is telling, in this case. Early in his career he enters into a musical friendship ...
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altsaxofoon, componist, gitaar, klarinet

Mentioned in the biography of

1973   Guus Janssen
1978   Maurice Horsthuis
1987   Hans Hasebos
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Biography Paul Termos

Paul Termos (Hilversum, 15 January 1952 – Amsterdam, 20 May 2003) has one foot in the world of contemporary composition, and the other in jazz and improvised music. The choice of his musical partners is telling, in this case. Early in his career he enters into a musical friendship with pianist Guus Janssen, like himself a composer who writes works for ensembles and orchestras and is an active improviser as well. He also shares this combination with bassist Maarten Altena, and he plays an important role in the latter's quartet and octet in the eighties. In the late eighties Termos forms his own large group, in which he can freely express his ideas on composition and improvisation. In 2003 Paul Termos dies of pancreatic cancer.

Played in

De Zes Winden   altsaxofoon

1973 - 1978

At the Amsterdam Sweelinck Conservatory (where he studies composition with Ton de Leeuw, and music analysis with Jos Kunst) Paul Termos meets pianist Guus Janssen. Together with the latter's brothers Paul (clarinet) and Wim (drums) they form a quartet in which Termos initially plays the guitar. He later switches to clarinet, until the alto saxophone finally becomes his main instrument. The foursome attends a workshop with bassist Arjen Gorter at the Amsterdam club Oktopus. They share a love for combining (free) jazz with contemporary composed music, a symbiosis they also find in the works of Misha Mengelberg and Theo Loevendie. In the English guitarist Peter Cusack, who settles in the Netherlands in the mid seventies, they find a likeminded musician. They start playing with him and the result can be heard on the second of a series of LPs, Groups In Front Of People (1978). The foursome (without brother Paul Janssen), plus bassist Raoul van der Weide, join trombonist Bert Koppelaar's Punt Uit Orkest. Guus Janssen is also the pianist of Paul Termos's own quartet, with cellist Tristan Honsinger and bassist Maarten van Regteren Altena. Van der Weide and Wim Janssen form the rhythm section van Termos's trio, in which the American Ronald Shannon Jackson takes over from Wim Janssen on one occasion in 1980.

Arjen Gorter Bert Koppelaar Guus Janssen Jos Kunst Ton de Leeuw

1978 - 1986

Bassist Maarten (van Regteren) Altena starts a new quartet, with a chamber music-like line-up. Violist Maurice Horsthuis and oboist Maud Sauer are the group's other members. The outfit can be heard on the LPs Op Stap (1980) and Pisa (1982). In 1982 trombonist Wolter Wierbos comes to take Horsthuis's place. In this new line-up they record the LPs Veranda (1982) and Miere (1983). When Altena starts an octet in addition to the quartet in the same year, Termos is on board again. He can be heard on the octet's debut album Tel and on Quick Step (1986). Rondedans (1985) is the quartet's swan song. Erik van den Berg characterizes Termos's work with Altena as follows in Jazzjaarboek 6: 'For me Paul Termos's name is inextricably linked to two formidable alto solos in the Maarten Altena Octet repertoire. In the Altena composition Hyena his improvisation revolves around an animal yelp, an eerily raucous cry in the highest register of the saxophone; in the lilting Buona Notte, a lullaby under a Mediterranean starry sky, his alto achieves the ultimate in lyricism.'

Maarten Altena Wolter Wierbos


Misha Mengelberg invites Termos to join the ICP. He participates in a program regarding the music of Herbie Nichols. The result can be heard on the cassette Extension Red, White & Blue (ICP 025), and later on the CD Two Programs (ICP 026). In the saxophone sextet De Zes Winden Paul Termos is the new altoist, enabling John Tchicai to switch from alto to tenor. Termos stays in Ad Peijnenburg's group for two years and is featured on the LP Live At The Bim And More (1986). Frans Vermeerssen is his successor.

De Zes Winden Misha Mengelberg


Termos turns his trio into a quintet by adding the English trumpeter Marc Charig and trombonist Wolter Wierbos.


The Claxon label releases a solo LP by Paul Termos: Solo 84-85. Kevin Whitehead's commentary on the album (in his book New Dutch Swing) is that Termos himself claims 'that Steve Lacy's solo music is greater inspiration than Antony Braxton's but Braxton's is closer kin to the way each solo composition isolates a different area to examine. That's also true of the materials themselves: wide-leaping serrated melodies, kernels expanding and contracting, knocking beats and meters out of whack; flutter tones, multiphonics and other selected textures; dogs in the alley and Lee Konitz flotation.' The new trio he launches this year consists of cellist Ernst Reijseger and drummer Michael Vatcher.

Ernst Reijseger Michael Vatcher


Guitarist Jacques Palinckx asks Termos to be one of the two saxophonists in his new nonet, simply called Palinckx, which turns out to be short-lived. The Traction Avant label releases the only LP by this line-up: Grrroeten (1987). Bassist Gijs van Dijk extends his trio (with pianist Arend Nijenhuis and vibraphonist Hans Hasebos) into a quintet, adding Termos and drummer Han Bennink. He releases a self-produced cassette by the group, No I. Termos can also be heard in his old friend Guus Janssen's new septet. He is featured on a few tracks of the LP 85....86 (1987). For his piano composition‘Carrara’ (1985) Termos is awarded the Incentive Prize of the Amsterdam Art Fund.

Gijs van Dijk Palinckx


The artistic director of the Amsterdam Bimhuis, Huub van Riel, invites him to participate in the international meeting for improvisers, the October Meeting. Termos also comes into contact with musicians from the Hungarian improvised music scene: the reedists István Grencsó and Mihály Dresch. They start playing duos and trios.


Paul Termos assembles a tentet of his own, for which he writes all the music. In 1989 the group makes its debut; the CD Shakes & Sounds is released by the Geestgronden label. Dubbel Expres, another medium sized group he starts in 1995 as a successor to the tentet, releases the CD Death Dance Of Principles (on the same label) in 1997, featuring new material, as well as old recordings by the tentet. Both groups allow him to freely express his preferences as a composer and as an improviser. His love for pop music from the early sixties, the 'Blue Note avant-garde' from the same period (by musicians like Andrew Hill, Eric Dolphy and Bobby Hutcherson), his interest in game structures as a base for improvisation, and his sense of lyricism, are the building blocks for his compositions for the tentet and Dubbel Expres. In both groups the human voice plays an important role. The tentet features improviser Jodi Gilbert, and the later ensemble has two classically trained sopranos (Margo Rens en Janice Jackson). When Guus Janssen receives a composition assignment from the NOS/Meervaart Festival, Paul Termos is one of the musicians in his Orchestra performing the suite Dancing Series. The recordings the NOS broadcasting company makes at the festival find their way onto a CD, put out by Janssen's own Geestgronden label.


At the Budapest Jazz Festival Termos takes part in a tentet led by the Hungarian pianist-bassist-composer Stevan Kovacs Tickmayer, which contains eight Hungarians as well as fellow Dutch reedist Peter van Bergen.


Following a successful one-off performance with Guus Janssen and Han Bennink the three men decide to continue as a regular trio. Four years after the October Meeting Huub van Riel organizes a second edition, and Paul Termos is one of the invited guests.

Han Bennink


Together with guitarist Wiek Hijmans and bassist Wilbert de Joode Termos starts a trio which devotes itself to completely free improvisation: De Drie Koningen (The Three Kings).

Wiek Hijmans Wilbert De Joode


In the Amsterdam venue PH 31 cornetist Eric Boeren organizes a series of concerts devoted to the music of Ornette Coleman. For every installment he adds a saxophonist to his trio (with bassist Wilbert de Joode and drummer Michael Vatcher), and Paul Termos is one of them. Later in the year the Bimhuis presents a summary of the proceedings during the annual Summer Sessions under the title Go Dutch With Ornette. Recordings of these sessions find their way onto the CD Cross Breeding, released by the Bimhuis label.

Eric Boeren


Together with Stevan Kovacs Tickmayer (who just like Termos is a composer as well as an improviser) and drummer Geröly Tamas he forms a trio, which performs in Hungary and Yugoslavia.


Paul Termos forms a new trio with bassist Carl Beukman and drummer Arend Niks, called Amsterdam Force. In February the threesome leaves for India, where they give concerts in Calcutta and Delhi. The trio also performs on the occasion of the opening of the new Eduard Flipse hall of the Rotterdam concert stage De Doelen.

Arend Niks Carl G. Beukman


Paul Termos is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and on 20 May he dies. In his memory the labels X-OR, Geestgronden and Bimhuis Records join forces, and put out two CDs entitled the Termos Sessions. They contain a duo performance by Termos en Misha Mengelberg at the Bimhuis on 24 May 2002 (Volume I), and a studio recording with guitarist Wiek Hijmans from May 2001 (Volume II).


On the fifth anniversary of Paul Termos's death his musical friends organize a series of concerts at various stages in Amsterdam. Both his fully written compositions and his materials for improvisation are performed here.

Discography Paul Termos

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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