Jury Report Buma Boy Edgar Prize 2017 Martin Fondse
The Buma Boy Edgar Prize, the most prestigious award for jazz and improvised music in the Netherlands, has been awarded to pianist, Vibrandoneon player, composer and arranger Martin Fondse (Bergen op Zoom, 20 February, 1967).
The award consists of a sculpture by Jan Wolkers and a cash prize of €12,500, and goes to Martin Fondse in recognition of his diverse and richly colourful contribution to Dutch jazz and the music scene, his numerous ensembles, his compositions and arrangements, his contribution to film and theatre and for his role as motivator, source of inspiration for and mentor to countless young musicians and ensembles.
The jury’s decision to award the prize to Martin Fondse, choosing from a rich and diverse Dutch jazz scene, was reached unanimously and without hesitation, and acknowledges his remarkable “artistic footprint”: his artistic accomplishments as a performer, composer, arranger, programmer and conductor.
Martin Fondse established his approach back in the 90s with his octet De Achtbaan, later renamed the Martin Fondse Oktemble; his ensembles have rarely consisted of fewer than eight musicians ever since .
The Groove Troopers is a small big band with which he explores the territory between the traditional big-band repertoire and the more modern sound of 21st-century dance music. Meanwhile, the Starvinsky Orkestar (later the Martin Fondse Orchestra) is his vehicle for exploring the boundaries between classical music and jazz.
Martin Fondse’s interest in sound and timbre began at an early age, and his quest has been driven not merely by harmonic possibilities, but also by the possibilities offered by variations in ensemble line up and instrumentation, and by the contributions of musicians chosen from different backgrounds. He brings different worlds of music together and gives new meaning to the now hollow term “crossover”.
Fondse’s creativity in arranging and composing is particularly notable. It reveals a very personal, humorous narrative style, and is at once poetic, empathetic and delicate. As a composer and “recomposer”, he often devotes his wide-ranging interests to large ensembles, on account of his curiosity for the sonic possibilities therein.
The jury’s use of the term “recomposer” is deliberate, and is intended to emphasize Martin Fondse’s distinctive skills as an arranger, because what he does goes far beyond instrumentation: he lifts compositions above their original style and genre. Not surprisingly, he has often been called upon to bring his musical and artistic signature to bear on existing compositions as a favour to various well-known Dutch jazz musicians. And this is in addition to his absolutely wonderful soundtracks for animation films such as Vent, Pecker!, Fallin’ Floyd, Auditie and Phantom of the Cinema (the Dutch entry for the Oscars in 2009).
The evidence of Fondse’s omnivorous musical imagination can also be experienced in his keyboard playing and, more often recently, in his Vibrandoneon playing. The customarily accepted boundaries between genres like classical music, jazz, Latin and world music simply do not exist in his world. And from this world has come a rich outpouring of compositions over the past twenty-five years, among which have been commissions for the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Holland Symfonia, Metropole Orchestra and the Big Band of Hessischer Rundfunk
Also worthy of note is his close collaboration with trumpeter Eric Vloeimans, with whom he earned an Edison National Jazz Award in 2012, and with the Brazilian vocalist Lenine. Equally notable is Fondse’s role as a composer, keyboardist and producer in his collaboration with the harpist Remy van Kesteren. Fondse was furthermore responsible for the compositions in the highly acclaimed production Rosefire, in which he performed with the mezzo-soprano Tania Kross, trumpeter Eric Vloeimans and the Matangi Quartet.
Finally, the jury commends Martin Fondse for his ability to bring people together, through his music, his personal and professional conduct, his humour, and his optimistic outlook on life and the future. It applauds him not least for his motivating influence on the new generation of skilled amateurs, semi-professionals and emerging talent, as a teacher, mentor, leader of XL Jazz, BEAM Orchestra and most recently of the Sena National Youth Jazz Orchestra, where in his role as artistic director he is an inspiration to young musicians.
On behalf of the jury,
Amanda Kuyper and Guy van Hulst
The Buma Boy Edgar Prize 2017 jury consists of:
Amanda Kuyper, chairperson (music editor, NRC, Amsterdam)
Guy van Hulst, secretary (programmer for jazz and contemporary music, TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht)
Chris Weeda (sound engineer, Amsterdam)
Marcel Roelofs (festival programmer, Summer Jazz Bike Tour, Groningen)
Shane Burmania (music programmer, Korzo, The Hague and Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ, Amsterdam)