The Buma Boy Edgar Prize 2019 goes to saxophonist and composer Jasper Blom

The Buma Boy Edgar Prize, the most prestigious award for jazz and improvised music in the Netherlands, has been awarded to saxophonist and composer Jasper Blom. The news was announced at inJazz, the jazz network and showcase event in Rotterdam. 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.

Jasper Blom. Foto: Govert Driessen

Blom graduated cum laude from the Rotterdam Conservatory in 1991, leaving shortly thereafter for New York for six months to continue his studies under the tutelage of a number of jazz masters. Upon his return, he began exploring ways to break new ground by ignoring the boundary lines between genres. He kept experimenting, improvising and composing, 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.

He is a highly sought-after sideman in pop, jazz and improvised music, and has performed 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 is 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 is also 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 formed the Jasper Blom Quartet, a vehicle that allowed him to accommodate his wide range of stylistic influences. The band have played major venues at home and abroad, and 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. 

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.

Excerpts from the jury report:
“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 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.”

“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.”

“His work with the Jasper Blom Quartet has produced several recordings over the past decade offering 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.”

“He repeatedly brings out the very best in his fellow musicians, in the studio and on stage, at home and abroad.”

“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.”

The jury of the Buma Boy Edgar Prize 2019 consists of:
Linda Bloemhard, chairperson (Head of Jazz, Codarts)
Marieke Meischke, secretary (Festival director/programmer and music teacher at ArtEZ)
Melchior Huurdeman (Editor, VPRO Vrije Geluiden TV)
Perry Lehmann (Commercial director, ProJazz)
Bartho van Straaten (Head of programming, Paradox)

The history of the award
The Buma Boy Edgar Prize is awarded each year to a musician who has long distinguished himself or herself creatively, and in so doing has made or is making a valuable contribution to the Dutch jazz and improvised music scene. As part of the award, the winner is invited to curate a concert evening at the BIMHUIS, during which he or she is presented with the award, which consists of a cash prize of €12,500 and a bronze sculpture by Jan Wolkers. Jasper Blom’s concert evening takes place on 4 December 2019.

The award was initiated in 1963 under the name the Wessel Ilcken Prize. It was renamed the Buma Boy Edgar Prize in 1980 and the VPRO Buma Boy Edgar Prize in 1992, before becoming the Buma Boy Edgar Prize in 2014. Recent winners include Jasper van ’t Hof (2018), Martin Fondse (2017), Wilbert de Joode (2016), Tineke Postma (2015) and Jeroen van Vliet (2014).

The award ceremony and concert evening are organised by the Boy Edgar Prize Foundation in collaboration with the BIMHUIS. Tickets for the 4 December 2019 event will be on sale from 1 July 2019 via the BIMHUIS. TICKETS.

The Buma Boy Edgar Prize 2019 is brought to you by Buma Culture (main sponsor), Sena Performers, the BIMHUIS, the North Sea Jazz organisation and media partner VPRO.

Further information about the award, the jury report, Jasper Blom’s biography and publicity shots, you can find elsewhere on this website and also in this PRESSKIT.

For more information and interview requests, please contact Dorothée van Hooff, project manager Boy Edgar Prize Foundation: info@boyedgarprijs.nl / t. 06 – 21 20 36 99