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01-09-1957 - current


improvised, jazz, trombone, trompet


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Wolter Wierbos

In 1979 Wolter Wierbos (Holten, 1 September 1957) settles as a freelance trombonist, and becomes a key player in the Dutch improvised music scene. He has been performing with the ICP Orchestra since 1980. He is also a member of other prominent bands, like Available Jelly, the Podium Trio ...
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trombone, trompet

Mentioned in the biography of

1978   Paul Termos
1980   Jan Cees Tans
1982   Misha Mengelberg
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Biography Wolter Wierbos

In 1979 Wolter Wierbos (Holten, 1 September 1957) settles as a freelance trombonist, and becomes a key player in the Dutch improvised music scene. He has been performing with the ICP Orchestra since 1980. He is also a member of other prominent bands, like Available Jelly, the Podium Trio and the Gerry Hemingway Quintet. Wierbos’s style is influenced by the trombonists of the Duke Ellington band on the one hand, and by free jazz instrumentalists like Albert Mangelsdorff and Roswell Rudd on the other. He receives great acclaim for his command of extreme and unusual instrumental techniques. His style is characterized by the use of various mutes, which he uses to manipulate the trombone sound. Outside the Netherlands Wierbos is featured in international bands led by Cecil Taylor, Evan Parker, Frank Gratkowski and others. From 1989 he leads the group Celebration Of Difference for a number of years. It features a Surinam rhythm section and horn players Jarmo Hoogendijk (trumpet) and Ben van den Dungen (tenor and soprano saxophone). The role of band leader does not agree with him, however, and he prefers to play in bands where collectivity and room for free playing are the key factors. In 1995 Wolter Wierbos is awarded the Boy Edgar Prijs (the major Dutch jazz award). In 2001 he co-founds Stichting dOeK, which has set itself the task to propagate improvised music in the Netherlands. One outcome of the annual dOeK festival is Wollo's World, a flexible project in which Wierbos creates space for improvising musicians in changing line-ups. Having played on modern instruments for so many years, he acquires a 1933 Conn trombone in 2003. Since 2006 Wierbos and his wife Fieke Broekhuizen have been organizing small-scale concerts on their Amsterdam house boat on the river Amstel.

Played in

Available Jelly   trombone
Bunker Sextet   trombone
Ensemble LOOS   trombone
Instant Composers Pool   trombone
Orkater Millennium Orkest   trombone
Oruga   trombone

1957 - 1979

During his youth in the village of Holten (in the Dutch province of Overijssel), Wolter Wierbos plays the trumpet in the local brass band, and later switches to trombone. In high school, the Alexander Hegius Scholengemeenschap in Deventer, he joins the school band. At the Deventer venue Ei van Columbus he sees concerts by improvisers like Willem Breuker, Misha Mengelberg and Han Bennink. In 1977 he starts studying social geography at Groningen University. In the local improvisation scene he meets band leader Alan Laurillard. Wierbos makes his debut at the Amsterdam Bimhuis playing in the latter’s band. In 1978 he wins first prize at the Laren jazz competition with fellow Groningen trombonist Joep Maessen, as Duo Klei. In 1979 Wierbos makes his recording debut with a live album by composer-performer Harry de Wit. He drops out of college and moves to Amsterdam, following in De Wit’s and Maessen’s footsteps. He has been a freelance trombonist ever since.

Harry de Wit Joep Maessen

1980 - 1988

Band leader Misha Mengelberg invites Wierbos to replace trombonist Radu Malfatti in the ICP Orchestra, where he becomes a mainstay. Wierbos is soon integrated in the Amsterdam scene. He plays in bands like the Bunker Sextet and Cumulus, both alongside reed player Ab Baars, with groups led by bassist Maarten Altena, tenor saxophonist J.C. Tans and composer/saxophonist Theo Loevendie. He also performs with international band leaders like saxophonist Elton Dean and bassist Harry Miller. Wierbos is asked to provide music for dance and theater companies, like Baal, for its production Leedvermaak. In 1982 his first solo album is released. The track titles refer to towns and villages in his native region. In 1983 his duo partner Joep Maessen is killed in a car crash. In 1984 Wierbos is awarded the Podiumprijs, an award for talented young musicians. A year later he forms the Podium Trio with two other winners of the award, saxophonist Paul van Kemenade and guitarist Jan Kuiper. Wierbos joins several new ensembles like Bik Bent Braam and LOOS, both concerning themselves with a combination of cutting edge composed and improvised music. In 1988 Wierbos performs at the Berlin Kongresshalle with Cecil Taylor’s orchestra. The concert is later released on CD as Alms/Tiergarten, which The Penguin Guide To Jazz describes as 'a monumental event'.

Ab Baars Bunker Sextet Jan Cees Tans Jan Kuiper Maarten Altena Michiel Braam Misha Mengelberg Paul van Kemenade Theo Loevendie

1989 - 1994

Wierbos starts Celebration Of Difference when he is given carte blanche to assemble a band for the television series Jazz in het Bimhuis. His idea is to create an ensemble in which various directions in Dutch improvised music are brought together. The front line features the two young bop adepts Jarmo Hoogendijk en Ben van den Dungen, the rhythm section includes Surinam musicians like drummer Eddy Veldman. The band doesn’t last very long. Wierbos later blames this on the fact that he didn’t feel comfortable with his role as band leader. In 1990 Wierbos joins the international Gerry Hemingway Quintet. He is a member of the Maarten Altena Ensemble which invites American guest soloists like Roscoe Mitchell (1992) and John Zorn (1993). The trombonist also works with idiosyncratic rock bands Gruppo Sportivo and The Ex.

Ben van den Dungen Gruppo Sportivo Jarmo Hoogendijk The Ex

1995 - 2000

Wierbos is awarded the 1995 Boy Edgar Prijs, and is one of the few laureates to receive the award purely for his qualities as an instrumentalist. The Podium Trio is very successful, both at home and abroad, in collaboration with the American musicians David Murray, Jamaladeen Tacuma and Cornell Rochester. In 1997 the Instant Composers Pool celebrates its 30th anniversary, and Wierbos is by then one of the band members with the longest tenure. In 1998 a new solo album is released, entitled X Caliber and described as 'a demonstration of extreme trombone techniques'. Wierbos becomes a member of the New Concert Big Band led by Henk Meutgeert, later to become the Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw. He plays alongside the veteran American trombonist Britt Woodman (ex-Ellington, ex-Mingus) in a performance of Charles Mingus's Epitaph by the Trans Atlantic Orchestra conducted by Gunther Schuller, during the 1999 Holland Festival.

Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw

2001 - 2004

In 2001 Stichting dOeK ('de Oefening de Kunst') is founded in Amsterdam. It is an association of improvisers Eric Boeren, Tobias Delius, Cor Fuhler, Wilbert de Joode and Wolter Wierbos. The collective concerns itself with the development and support of improvised music by various means: concerts, workshops, international collaborations and an annual festival. At the 2003 dOeK Festival Wierbos performs with Misha Mengelberg, the Swedish saxophonist Mats Gustafsson and bassist Wilbert de Joode as Wollo's World. In years to come Wollo's World is his platform for improvisers in ever-changing line-ups. Members of the ICP Orchestra, including Wierbos, record an album with The Ex and the American noise rock band Sonic Youth in 2003. In 2004 the Bimhuis moves to a new location, and Wierbos performs during the final night of the original venue with an all star band featuring Misha Mengelberg and Archie Shepp.

Cor Fuhler Eric Boeren Tobias Delius Wilbert De Joode

2005 - 2012

After seven years of silence the Podium Trio starts performing again. In 2006 Wierbos and his wife Fieke Broekhuizen start a series of small-scale summer concerts on their Amsterdam house boat on the river Amstel, the one hundred year old sailing vessel De Drie Gebroeders. In 2007 Instant Composers Pool celebrates its 40th anniversary. In 2008 Wierbos is asked to join the new David Kweksilber Big Band, in which improvisers play alongside musicians from classical and new music ensembles. On the occasion of its 30th anniversary The Ex embarks on an international tour with a horn section, including Wierbos, as The Ex & Brass Unbound. In 2011 the trombonist becomes a member of Boucalé, a new band playing the music of Paul Termos (1952-2003), a saxophonist and composer with whom Wierbos often played.

David Kweksilber Paul Termos

Discography Wolter Wierbos

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 Wolter Wierbos

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