Jury report on the winner of the Buma Boy Edgar Prize 2019, Jasper Blom

The Buma Boy Edgar Prize, the most prestigious award for jazz and improvised music in the Netherlands, is awarded this year to saxophonist, composer, arranger and bandleader Jasper Blom (Geldrop, 1965).

The jury’s decision was based on the following criteria:

  • The artist has accomplished exceptional artistic achievements over a number of years at national and international level.
  • The winner displays rare qualities in regard to improvisation, composition, arrangement, education and leadership.
  • The artist’s work manifests significant ongoing development, continued relevance and sustained high standards.
  • The artist has long demonstrated his or her outstanding creative contribution to the Dutch jazz and improvised music scene.

Jasper Blom could be considered a philosophical realist, in that he is an original thinker as well as a doer. He is keenly aware of his strengths as an instrumentalist but also of his position in the world. He is not on stage to make an impression, but to tell a story. And his work demands the listener’s careful attention for them to grasp and experience the deeper meaning and layered narratives of his compositions. He never does anything for the sake of effect and has been ploughing his own furrow with unwavering integrity in various movements within the jazz idiom for thirty years. His tone is never harsh, but always brims with suspense and excitement, like a warm whirlwind stirring up things that the listener cannot predict. 

Blom received the final call to his destiny in the late 70s, as he listened to the magical sound of Sonny Rollins’ saxophone at De Oosterpoort in Groningen. His response launched him on an exciting musical journey across countless venues and cities and involved innumerable influences and collaborations with a host of jazz greats: the Rotterdam Conservatory, New York, Dave Liebman, Joe Lovano, Amsterdam, Chet Baker, Pierre Courbois, Michael Moore, Lee Konitz, big band, David Kweksilber, the Metropole Orkest, rock, blues, the music of Stevie Wonder, Joris Roelofs, Benjamin Herman, Nils Wogram, Bert Joris, acoustic and electronic combinations, Anton Goudsmit, improvisation, Tom Rainey and influences from the four corners of the world. And this is but a selection from the long list of cross-fertilizations, communions and ensembles of various size and composition on which he made his mark with abiding passion and commitment.

Jasper Blom has long demonstrated the depths of his creativity through his telepathic connection with the fellow members of his superb quartet, the jazz heavyweights Jesse van Ruller, Frans van der Hoeven and Martijn Vink. Together they have produced four studio albums over the past decade as well as a recent live double album, yielding a collection of remarkable and ingenious compositions and spanning everything from pop, funk and free jazz to soundscapes and medieval polyphony. Each performance is firmly rooted in instrumental proficiency and sound structure, providing the foundation for playing and exchanging ideas at the highest levels of improvisation. Blom repeatedly brings out the very best in his fellow musicians, in the studio and on stage, at home and abroad.

His instruction at the Amsterdam Conservatory spawned Rough Diamonds, a weekly improvisatory workshop series at the BIMHUIS that he leads for promising young undergraduates. His uninhibited engagement with these musicians also serves to keep his own playing fresh and edgy. The jury of the Buma Boy Edgar Prize 2019 acknowledges the immense value of this inspiring and stimulating initiative.

Jasper Blom has shared his devotion to musical adventure, variety, humour, communion and improvisation and his extensive and richly layered oeuvre with us, the jazz audience, for years and with unbridled enthusiasm, and for that he has earned our immense gratitude.

On behalf of the jury, Marieke Meischke