Biography of Jasper Blom

Jasper Blom. Foto: Govert Driessen

Jasper Blom (Geldrop, 1965) is regarded as one of the most pivotal tenor and soprano saxophonists in the Dutch jazz scene and is renowned for his compositional synthesis of jazz, pop, classical and improvised music. He is a two-time winner of the European Jazz Competition Award and has performed at major jazz festivals the world over and at clubs throughout Europe and the United States.

Blom graduated cum laude from the Rotterdam Conservatory in 1991, leaving shortly thereafter for New York for six months to continue his studies with saxophonist Dave Liebman and trombonist and composer Bob Brookmeyer and take lessons with saxophonists Joe Lovano and Greg Osby. Upon his return, he teamed up with Michael Moore to form the pianoless quintet Zut Alors! with whom he released his debut album, Pie Dough, in 1992. He also began working with Benjamin Herman and Joost Patočka, and later with Arnold Dooyeweerd and Joris Roelofs. These early collaborations reflected Blom’s desire to break new ground by ignoring the boundary lines between genres and foretold the unconventional nature of the ensembles that he would become known for assembling.

Blom continued to experiment, improvise and compose, gradually developing a practice that would see him performing hardbop with Benjamin Herman one night, absorbed in free improvisation the next, experimenting with guitar effects on his sax in funk sessions later in the week and immersed in medieval plainsong or Claude Débussy’s piano works on the nights in between.

Before long he’d become a highly sought-after sideman in pop, jazz and improvised music, and would go on to perform with international jazz greats such as Randy Crawford, George Duke, Chet Baker, Lee Konitz and Nat Adderley. Among the many groups and ensembles in which he became a key figure are the super-septet KRUPA & The Genes, WonderYears (a bass/sax/drum trio devoted to the music of Stevie Wonder) and the David Kweksilber Big Band. He also became a regular guest performer in studio and live sessions with leading ensembles like the Metropole Orkest and the Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw.

In 2006, Blom got together with guitarist Jesse van Ruller, double bass player Frans van der Hoeven and drummer Martijn Vink to form the Jasper Blom Quartet, with which he was now able to accommodate his wide range of stylistic influences, and with which he has since played a series of major venues at home and abroad. The band have also released a new album every other year since 2008, each defined by highly eclectic and extraordinarily original compositions. The most recent of these, the live double album Polyphony, was released on Whirlwind Recordings, the London-based label. Recorded at the BIMHUIS, it features guest appearances by Belgian trumpeter Bert Joris and trombonist Nils Wogram.

Blom’s compositions, which include commissions undertaken for Stichting Jazz in Utrecht, the North Sea Jazz Festival, Jazz International Rotterdam and SAX14, often draw immediate attention. “Jaive Song”, for instance, was a Radio 6 track of the week, while “Nothing Twice” was performed by the David Kweksilber Big Band at the BIMHUIS’s 40th anniversary celebration. 

In addition to his teaching position at the Amsterdam Conservatory, Blom is also helping to shape the next generation of jazz musicians by facilitating improvisation sessions with them and overseeing the annual Rough Diamonds festival at the BIMHUIS. He can regularly be found performing with his students in the more intimate setting of local cafés, an illustration of his growing belief that his engagements with students are likely to serve them better the more often some of these sessions are located beyond the walls of the conservatory. Blom seeks the full realization of his potential as a musician not only as an experimenting jazz artist but also by serving as an unorthodox instructor and organiser in the jazz community.