Willem Breuker Kollektief: A PARIS
Liner notes by Rudy Koopmans, 1978:
"Willem Breuker was born in a working class district of Amsterdam in 1944. He was introduced to music through the sounds of his neighbourhood, marching bands, radio programmes and old 78rpm records, as well as barrel organs and the concerts of chimes in the bell-towers of Amsterdam.
Although mainly self-taught he learned the clarinet in a nearby children's music school and became known on the local jazz scene in the 60's as a composer and saxophonist. In 1966 he participated in the amateur jazz competition in Loosdrecht with a 23-piece band. For the occasion he presented an oratorio inspired by the violent worker's demonstrations which had taken place in Amsterdam the same year and had resulted in the death of one of the demonstrators. This oratorio dedicated to the construction worker's struggle provoked numerous polemics in Holland, both within the world of jazz and beyond, due to the openly political stance and the unorthodox way of presenting the music.
Willem Breuker's inspiration is drawn from Dutch popular music, jazz, Schoenberg, but also Brecht. That represents the basic schema but the most important thing, for him, is always the musical journey, characterised by a surprising use of forms and expressions, while the method of relating the music remains quite commonplace.
In 1967 Willem Breuker founded the Instant Composer's Pool (ICP) with Misha Mengelberg and Han Bennink. When they came together, the three musicians, although having completely different mentalities and mindsets, greatly enriched the improvised music scene at first in Holland, and then in neighbouring countries. The ICP created improvised music using all the techniques of jazz but in a wider context, drawing from the source of Dutch popular music, (clock-tower chimes, barrel organs, mandolins) and also from the music of John Cage, Fluxus, Brecht, and sometimes even African music.
At the same time ICP became an organised structure, aligning its musical and extra-musical activities. It participated in socio-political activities both in jazz and classical music, and created a very active musician's union, the Beroepsvereniging van Improviserende Musici (BIM). Their headquarters in Amsterdam, the BIM-Huis, favoured all the musicians working in improvised music. At the same time ICP created its own record production company, and made a considerable number of albums with the participation of Willem Breuker. This type of activity would be repeated by many musicians in other European countries.
In 1973 Willem Breuker split from the ICP and went on to found, with Leo Cuypers, a new organisation, 'BVHAAST' which also produced albums. It was during this same period that the 'Willem Breuker Kollektief was created and the composition of the group has remained the same up to the present day. In creating the Kollektief Willem Breuker decided not to engage musicians with established reputations but rather wanted to enlarge the group to include new young musicians. On the one hand Willem van Manen and Arjen Gorter already had long careers in jazz, whereas Bob Driessen, Maarten van Norden and Boy Raaymakers on the other hand, came from different horizons. If Rob Verdurmen was totally unknown before joining the Kollektief, Leo Cuypers, on the contrary, had already proved his worth with Willem Breuker as both a soloist and composer. Bernard Hunnekink and Jan Wolff, with their experience in classical music, widened both the musical and organisational conception of the Kollektief promoted by Willem Breuker. Both were also members of 'De Volharding', founded by Louis Andriessen, and had participated in numerous musical and political demonstrations in contemporary music circles.
The majority of the compositions played by the Kollektief are by Willem Breuker himself. The choice of instruments and the style of writing are characterised by their clarity. Breuker is openly adverse to romantic impressionism and uses it only for ironic or comic effect. Outside the 'Kollektief Willem Breuker composes an enormous amount of work. There exist around two hundred works, written at a rate of around twenty a year, in differing styles, notably symphonic works and music composed for the theatre and cinema. Willem Breuker also writes theatre music for the 'Kollektief, works in which the musicians also become actors.
The difficulties of recording and reproducing theatrical works means that the only way of forming an idea of the work of the 'Kollektief's' musical theatre is through a few films and Dutch TV shows, or recordings made by Breuker himself, and some articles in the specialised press.
The Kollektief has travelled a great deal throughout Europe and has recently toured the USA. Many recordings exist on the BVHAAST label, notably a 'Live in Berlin' from 1975. When the 'Kollektief is not touring several members of the group perform regularly in diverse small bands which perform throughout Holland.
The music presented on this album constitutes a broad choice of compositions played by the Kollektief during their tour of France in February 1978. Most of these were written in 1977 and offer all the musicians the opportunity to express themselves as soloists."
- Rudy Koopmans, Amsterdam, 1978