Lijbaart, who has been a central figure in saxophonist Yuri Honing’s groups for some twenty years, met his partners in Under the Surface when the young singer from Tilburg, Sanne Rambags was selected by the Dutch initiative Beaux Jazz in 2015 to collaborate with more experienced musicians as part of its Generation Next strand.
Rambags decided to work with Lijbaart and the guitarist Bram Stadhouders, who had previously appeared with Norwegian vocalist Sidsel Endresen and who plays ice guitar in Norwegian percussionist Terje Isungset’s ice concerts, and the trio formed an instant rapport.
“I knew immediately we began to play together that we had something special,” says Lijbaart. “The combination of Sanne’s almost shamanistic singing and the sense of space that Bram creates was very inspiring and the elements of a kind of mysterious folk tradition that Sanne brings to the music seems to give what we’re doing a universal language.”
World music festival organisers were quick to pick up on this and in 2016 Under the Surface were invited to perform at one of the largest musical events in Africa, the Festival on the Niger, in Mali. This led to festival appearances in Mexico, China and India, while closer to home the group has appeared at Jazz International in Rotterdam and the Sound of Europe in Breda.
“We don’t play African music but when we were in Mali we got a chance to play with kora player Mamadou Sidiki Diabaté, the younger brother of kora master Toumani Diabaté, and that turned out to be a very compatible group,” says Lijbaart. “We don’t play free jazz either, although Bram and I have done so in the past. The music changes every time we play but it’s more a case of instant composition, creating something from a sketch that might be an atmosphere or a drum rhythm that develops in the moment.”
The Scottish dates begin at the Blue Lamp in Aberdeen on Thursday 22nd February, going on to Eyemouth Hippodrome (23rd) and a new jazz club in Glasgow, the Blue Arrow (24th). Going Dutch, which has already toured the Instant Composers Pool Orchestra and young horn-guitar-drums combo Kapok, will continue to present jazz from the Netherlands across the UK and Ireland for the rest of 2018 and into 2019.
Text: Rob Adams
Photo credits: Juan Carlos Villarroel and Paul Bergen