|Rein de Graaff is one of the few European pianists for whom the playing of jazz is not a craft but an emotional necessity. He feels the typical tempos which give" his colleagues so much difficulty and he speaks the musical language of the many American musicians with whom he has toured both inside and outside the Netherlands over the years. And the pleasure they gained from it was mutual. He has been playing music of a high standard for some decades. In the bebop field ó a style he has made entirely hisown ó he has his own tale to tell. In doing so he has won a place for himself not only in the Netherlands but throughout Europe. Rein de Graaff seeks out all the possibilities for the piano, with an approach more like that of a horn player - and in fact his own playing keeps more or less within the range of the tenor sax. All his lines are smoothly and effortlessly rounded off. He colours his chords with subtle variations in touch and it^ s not just his fellow musicians who appreciate his excellent time-keeping. His solos are notable for their highly rhythmic intensity. He's an absolutely incorruptible pianist with an individual approach. When accompanying other soloists he is well able to create a harmonic whole.
For those who are unfamiliar with Rein de Graaff s musical past, here's his story. He was bom in 1942 in Groningen, a northern province of the Netherlands. While growing up in this rather remote region, his first contacts with jazzwere radio broadcasts and records. Classical piano lessons at the age of twelve didn't have any lasting effect. Instead, Rein started to experiment on his own with the music he was interested in. In de mid-fifties he became fully aware of the developments in jazz. The serious practice of these new sounds marked his formative years. His main inspiration was Bud Powell, but under the influence of his favourite hom players at that time, Kenny Dorham, Hank Mobley and of course Charlie Parker, he developed a hornlike attack in his playing. In the relative seclusion of his teens he continued to practice and tried to find his own way. Rein was active in local bands for a while; then a prize-winning performance at the National Jazz Festival 1961 brought him wider acclaim. The next years he spent working with a group all over Europe. Rein then moved to Amsterdam where he met Dick Vennik, a tenor saxophone player. Their ideas fit
so remarkably well that they decided to form a group, the "Rein de Graaff- Dick Vennik Quartet', which is still around today. They have recorded six albums; the last one of these is ' 'Jubilee ' (Timeless SJP 294). Another aspect of Rein's activities is accompanying visiting musicians. From a one-night stand with Dizzy Gillespie to greats like Charlie Rouse, Harold Land, dark Terry or Frank Wess. His extended tours with Dexter Gordon and stints with Don Byas, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Sonny Stitt,Philly Joe Jones and many others have all led to his growing reputation. He recorded with Amett Cobb, Al Cohn, Teddy Edwards, Johnny Griffin, Dave Pike and Charles McPherson and for his own quintet-date he had the services of Tom Harrell, Ronnie Cuber, Sam Jones and Louis Hayes (' New York Jazz' - Timeless SJP 130). In addition. Rein de Graaff s efforts to bring known and unknown or forgotten American
soloists to the Netherlands for his
Course in bebop' -concerts have served to stimulate interest in that kind of music. After receiving the'9 Boy Edgar Prize" in 1980, he was honoured with the ' Bird Award' - at the North Sea Festival' 86 - for his special merits in sustaining and promoting a level of the finest modern jazz traditions in Holland.
MdD. E. T. Lettinga 1989
Recording Date: 10 July 1990