Press photo 2016 (© Merlijn Doomernik)
Nirvana by Zapp4 drawing (© Bruno Ferro Xavier da Silva)
Press photo Hemelse Chaos (© Merlijn Doomernik)
Press photo Concertgebouw (© Floriaan Ganzefoort)
Biography (English, Dutch)
Laurent Sprooten, Draai om je oren, jazz en meer - weblog, 26.02.13
Zapp 4 – 'We Suck Young Blood' (Challenge Records, 2012)
De zesde cd van het strijkkwartet Zapp 4 is volledig gewijd aan de muziek van de Engelse rockgroep Radiohead. Dat klinkt naar 'Zapp 4 speelt covers van Radiohead-songs', maar niets is minder waar. Hoe kun je als strijkkwartet ook in de buurt komen van deze tamelijk compromisloze Britten, die wat betreft podiumdramatiek en intensiteit sinds hun doorbraak met het album 'OK Computer' (1997) nieuwe maatstaven hebben gezet. Het leuke is: Zapp 4 doet dat met 'We Suck Young Blood' ook, maar dan op een ander level.
Radiohead - dat zijn bezwerende en gedragen intro's, dikke akkoorden, orgiastische uitbarstingen, muziek waarachter vaak een existentiële pijn schuilgaat, ook als de tonen zacht en omfloerst zijn. Dit heeft de groep gemeen met grootheden als bijvoorbeeld The Doors en - waarom ook niet - Johnny Cash. Zapp 4 heeft nu ten opzichte van Radiohead zelf het voordeel dat het aan geen enkel rockidioom gebonden is en vanuit de distantie heel andere lagen en sferen uit de muziek kan distilleren.
Bij het opnieuw ensceneren ofwel adapteren van het bronmateriaal lijkt Zapp 4 over een onuitputtelijke fantasie te beschikken. Meteen aan het begin van de cd is het al raak. Waar bij Radiohead de song 'The Daily Mail' door zware koperblazers haast uit zijn voegen barst (inderdaad, ook naar 'Atom Heart Mother' geluisterd), komt Zapp 4 met een uitgekiend gearrangeerde pastorale voor de dag, die slepend en intiem begint, maar gaandeweg via steeds scherpere accenten van binnenuit gaat gloeien. Zo krijgt de melancholieke grondtoon een manische felheid. Hiermee zijn we dus na enkele minuten al bij de essentie van Radiohead aanbeland. Dat gevoel bekruipt je eigenlijk in ieder nummer; de gebruikte muzikale middelen kunnen totaal afwijkend zijn, de impact en de werking komen dicht bij elkaar in de buurt.
Van een bijna pijnlijke schoonheid is 'Paranoid Android', een nummer uit de late jaren negentig, waarmee Radiohead nog in de nadagen van de grunge leek te verkeren. Zapp 4 kiest in deze inktzwarte rocksong voor desolate motieven, waar ook Astor Piazzolla voor had kunnen tekenen en verlegt zo subtiel het perspectief naar een ander muzikaal klimaat. Iets vergelijkbaars gebeurt in 'Give Up The Ghost', waarin met de hulp van percussionist Afra Mussawissade oriëntaals wiegende ritmes ontstaan.
Niet toevallig is Radiohead een groep die enorm van perspectiefwisselingen houdt, ingrijpende, al of niet aangekondigde overgangen naar een intenser dynamisch niveau, een verdichting van de ritmiek en een veelkleurige wall of sound. Hier gaat Zapp 4 creatief mee om; een strijkkwartet kan het natuurlijk nooit in de decibellen gaan zoeken. Maar als het moet (en bij Radiohead moet het vaak), schakelen de strijkers eensgezind over op extreem hoekig en heftig samenspel, waarmee een cadans wordt bereikt die op een even overtuigende manier voor spanning, suspense en opwinding zorgt.
Een mooi voorbeeld is de titelsong 'We Suck Young Blood', een nocturne die de sfeer van een mistig kerkhof oproept. Ter verhoging van de dramatiek worden de vibrerende viooltonen aangevuld met hol klinkende zanglijnen, een prachtige vondst. En ook hier laten de strijkers van Zapp 4 na een abrupte overgang horen dat ze in de wereld der strijkkwartetten een unieke plaats innemen; ze zetten met een onverbiddelijkheid rock riffs neer, die zonder weerga zijn.
Maartje Den Breejen, Het Parool, 31-10-2013 (In Dutch)
Strijkkwartet speelt Radiohead.
Ze zitten beide bij hetzelfde platenlabel, het strijkkwartet Zapp4 en het Noordpool Orkest en ze hebben beide een album gemaakt met interpretaties van Radiohead-nummers. Het album van Zapp4 is getiteld We suck young blood, het Noordpool Orkest koos voor de titel Radiohead, a Jazz Symphony. Zapp4 heeft behalve de hits ook gekozen voor bewerkingen van minder bekende nummers (zoals Give up the ghost) van de Britse band, die bij hordes muziekliefhebbers in hun favorietenlijst aller tijden staat.
Zowel het orkest als het strijkkwartet hebben de nummers Paranoid Android en Exit music op het repertoire genomen. Ontzettend leuk om de uitvoeringen met elkaar te vergelijken. De vier strijkers van Zapp4 zijn als beeldhouwers te werk gegaan en hebben de twee nummers net zo lang uitgehakt tot de gloeiende harde kern van de arrangementen overbleef, het ritme tokkelend, verschillende melodielijnen tegen elkaar in strijkend, alles van stilte tot climax perfect getimed. Het Noordpool Orkest pakt met 42 muzikanten uit en laat de klanken als een pauwenveer uitwaaieren, pronkend met alle kleuren, soms wat al te zwoel. Hier wordt de muziek van Radiohead juist uitvergroot. Uiteindelijk grijpt de uitvoering van Zapp4 meer bij de lurven. Maar dat is ook niet heel vreemd, gezien de staat van dienst die Zapp4 heeft vergeleken bij het jonge orkest, dat pas twee jaar bestaat.
Tim Sprangers – Jazz International Rotterdam site (December 2012)
Zapp4- We Suck Young Blood
Last Month suddenly two albums have been released with the music of the best pop band of the last two decades. The sound, compositions and new ideas of Radiohead plant seeds in the ground for lots of other musical genres and certainly in jazz.
It is hard to find musicians, certainly from the younger generation, that do not have records of Radiohead in their collection. The band is a great inspiration to many of them. Within the jazz genre you see covers on a regular base or themes and vibes that are clearly inspired on Radiohead. This time two albums (both released by Challenge) are dedicated to the music of the band. ….
Much more interesting is the vision of the Dutch string players of Zapp 4. The quartet does not want to intimidate, but investigate, by taking a certain distance from the compositions. They color the lines with their own personal toolkit and by doing that they give a personal vision to the rich pieces. ZAPP 4 does what it does best. The dynamical possibilities, interaction and flexibility are the starting points at which they use the incredible options of colors to the max. This makes the music fresh and alive. You can sense their surrender in which they look for the core of the compositions in the moment. This gets much more to the point then just copying the music. Appealing are the sober pizzicato parts with a fragile melody. Or on the other hand bombastic improvisations after which the string players come together in unctuous choirs. Radiohead breathes creativity and authenticity and want to be treated like that as it seems.
The cd creates a lot of visual fantasies. It is something you can expect from the filmic Radiohead compositions in combination with the sound of a string ensemble.
It is difficult to explain why the sound of string instruments creates visual images and it will probably not be the case for everyone. It might be that there is so much space in a bowed tone, which is less direct than, for example, a piano.
IndiAndaluz ****JAÏR TCHONG − Volkskrant 01/10/2012
Zapp 4 knows the recipe for musical happiness.
IndiAndaluz (Zapp4, Eric Vaarzon Morel en Niti Ranjan Biswas) heard at De Toonzaal, Den Bosch, 28 September. Tourdates: zapp4.com
A confused student of Musicology did put it like this during the break, ‘I have no idea how to label this music but it is beautiful’. It is a known phenomena, Zapp 4 electrifies the analytic listener. Playing in the traditional string quartet format Zapp 4 makes you think more of drum ‘n’ bass, broken beats, funk and the better forms of world music. Classically trained string players, enriched with a serious knowledge of jazz and a way of expressing themselves linked to Indian music, it is a recipe for musical happiness.
At IndiAndaluz, the new Zapp 4 program, that flirts explicitly with flamenco and Indian music, musicians pleasantly step out of their traditional roles. Oene van Geel puts his viola aside and plays nasty rolls on the Cajon (the Afro-Peruvian rhythm box, famous for its use in Flamenco) and has a vocal duel with the Indian percussion player Niti Ranjan Biswas. . In turn each one challenges the other with human beat-box phrases and sung rhythmical formulas from Indian music.
Biswas, who has the looks of a Bollywood star, has been involved in the most interesting crossovers between jazz, classical and world music of the past years.
Jamming with Zapp 4 Biswas sounds like he is a steady Zapp 4 member since many years. With the (toned, melodic) tabla drums he plays rapid, funky comments on the provocations of Van Geel, who immediately replies with clever, and often humorous, answers on viola.
Under his own name is Vaarzon Morel is known at our national stages with his lush polder interpretation of flamenco. In this his program he plays a pleasantly supporting role. Only in two pieces, he takes the lead - the only moments when Zapp4 sounds like a regular string quartet in Haydn mode.
With so many different voices in a good discussion a vocalist is never missed. In crossover world music has a notorious reputation, but here something else is going on. Zapp4 offers no ethnic flavors and quotes but sublimates the global influences in a downright unique form of music. Global funk, which would fit perfectly for pop-stages as well.
L’Orient le Jour (Libanon) lundi 21 mai 2012 (in French)
Par Jean-Georges PRINCE | 05/05/2012
CONCERT Jeudi soir, la scène du théâtre Tournesol a été prise d’assaut par quatre Hollandais qui ont affolé les cordes de leurs violons et violoncelles. Voilà « Zapp4 » ou quatre archets en free-style pour le plus grand bonheur de l’auditoire.
Ils se produisent pour la première fois au Liban. Trois violonistes et un violoncelliste. Quatre jeunes gens. Quatre potes. Quatre styles. Un quartette explosif. Il y a d’abord Emile Visser. Violoncelle à même le corps. Assis sur une chaise surélevée pas toujours très sûre. Qu’importe. Toute la soirée, son jeu servira de base aux partitions. À coups de boum-boum et de toc-toc, il va installer l’ambiance.
Et puis il y a les trois violons. Oene Van Geel, Jasper Le Clercq et Jeffrey Bruinsma. À eux trois, ils jouent du jazz, de l’ethnique, de l’impro, du classique. À eux trois, ils sont le violon dans toute sa splendeur. À lui seul, chacun est virtuose.
Parce que dans chacune de leurs envolées musicales, il y a des moments d’apesanteur, de virtuosité et de transe. Voire de la danse. Les doigts grattent et les archets font vibrer les cordes. Ils surprennent en assignant l’instrument dans ses retranchements extrêmes. Voilà un violon noble sans être pédant. Classe sans être classique. Parfois langoureux, mais jamais lent.
Les quatre jouent à une vitesse incroyable. Les notes courent, sprintent, sautent, crient et chuchotent. Ils ont des styles différents qui en font leur richesse. Tous sont, accessoirement, compositeurs. Et à les écouter interpréter leurs morceaux, on décèle les racines de ces derniers. Les solos s’enchaînent alors que les trois autres encouragent du regard ou du sourire. Leur musique est la bande-son des rêves et celle des cauchemars. Les cordes peuvent être aussi stridentes que joyeuses. Leurs compositions rappellent tantôt Bond (l’agent secret, pas le quartette de violoniste féminin), tantôt le soleil des tropiques. À quatre, ils se permettent d’être complètement fous. D’une folie douce et mélodieuse. Il n’est pas commun que quatre archets reprennent des tubes du groupe anglais Radiohead. Ils l’ont fait. Et le vent de folie leur va si bien.
«Zapp4» ou la nouvelle drogue douce venue de Hollande.
Zapp 4 plays Radiohead (live), Mark van de Voort, Brabants Dagblad, 18 May 2012
...The highlight of the festival was the concert of Zapp 4. Zapp 4 is no ordinary string quartet. This time they only played their own arrangements of pop-icon Radiohead. Blistering versions of songs such as A Wolf at the Door and My Iron Lung which will soon be released on their new cd. The known melodies and electronic beats got transformed to pizzicato notes and a rich string sound. The public could not get enough of it.
Shakespeare Feeks Annette Embrechts, Volkskrant, Februari 22, 2011
...Musically this youth opera is an exiting adventure. Oene van Geel and Jasper le Clercq composed a swinging cocktail of classical music, jazz improvisations, groovy percussion and mean bass lines. With the classical line up of a string quartet Zapp 4 does not hold back to play rhythm guitar on the cello, teasing hits with the violins and once in a while active vocal backgrounds.
Radiohunter, Maartje den Breejen, het Parool, Januari 12, 2011
Zapp 4 is no gentle string quartet
The band name changed from Zapp String Quartet to Zapp 4, maybe to take away the classical string quartet association. People who know the four guys already know that they will not deal with a gentle classical sound. With two violins, viola and a cello Jasper le Clercq, Jeffrey Bruinsma, Emile Visser and Oene van Geel just as easy play strong funk, where the instruments are played like guitars, a jazz solo or a modern classical piece. On Radiohunter they composed all the pieces themselves. Obviously with lots of compositorial talent. There is music which needs your full attention and music to which you can listen to in a layd back mood. Zapp 4 leaves the choice to you. You can lean back but if you listen concentrated you can hear how ingenious the pieces are constructed. At the first song, Radiohunter, you are smoothly guided from one mood to another. Beautiful is Unseen, a serene composition with poly rhithmic figures, written by Van Geel and pianist Jeroen van Vliet. After Dark by Jeffrey Bruinsma is jazz with an enormous dynamic range and in BMW by Jasper le Clercq the quartet hits the gas pedal.
Radiohunter Frank van Herk, Volkskrant, December 6, 2010
Zapp4 plays with passion
The Zapp String Quartet has a new name, but stays one of the most special and stunning ensembles in this traditional line up. On their fifth cd they sound better then ever; the zapping from genre to genre, where their name originates from, did flow into a more organic blend of jazz, classical music, folk, pop and funk.
The reason for that might be that this time the compositions are written by the members themselves, exept Unseen, written by violist Oene van Geel and pianist Jeroen van Vliet. Zapp has the best vision on their own strong qualities.
Besides regular playing the violins are used as rhythm guitars, and cellist Emile Visser plays grooving bass lines. The diversity in colours is again one of the main features, ranging from semi-abstract and lyrical to grooving and direct, with a raw edge, everything is played with passion and vitality. That is also the case for the soloists. They sometines phrase as hornplayers, but have a much longer breath, so they can come up with extensive melodical lines.
Radiohunter Jochem Valkenburg, NRC, November 26, 2010
The Zapp String Quartet is a beautiful example of the typical Dutch tradition of non-cathegorized music between composed, improvised, jazz, classical music and pop.
On this new CD you can hear a very groovy Zapp in pieces like the Hammer and Radiohunter, (also the name of the CD) both composed by Oene van Geel. In this kind of pieces a part of the quartet, especially cello player Emile Visser, effortlessly assumes a percussive role. As a counterpart to this exuberance there are introspective compositions like Unseen, with a melancholic counterpoint, which somewhat reminds us of Shostakovich and which develops to a theme from which talkative improvisations evolve.
Bollywood by Jasper le Clercq is also fascinating because of the icy, slow and sour sound and texture. Zapp’s unpolished way of playing gives the piece an appropriate uneasiness.
A beautiful evocation of speed can be found in BMW by Jasper le Clercq, which accelerates like a German sports car, change gear, and pleasantly cruises the highway.
Radiohunter Guuz Hoogaerts, Fileunder, Januari 18th, 2011
Zapp 4 used to be called Zapp String Quartet. By that name I heard these four Dutch guys for the first time on the Shouting Boots Live! compilation. The quartet had a place of its own in between the Rockers, Honkers and melancholic songs. Their music created strong images but I could not label it. Modern Classical? Jazz? Folk? Radiohunter (their album nr 5) is difficult to classify as well. That does not need to be the case, but on a site with the name File Under you do expect that, don't you think?. 'Bowed but not without creases' is what I would call it. With two violins, a viola and a cello you can make music full of imagination. BMW, the song that has the energy of the metal cellists of Apocalyptica, sounds like the soundtrack of a starting, accelerating and then easy cruising German macho car. It encounters heavy weather, slips, overtakes a police car and gets chased by it. The titlesong, where they use the bows to create a real beat, makes me thing of Tin Hat (used to be Tn Hat Trio). Cinamatic country noir where the violins imitate guitars. When I think about it now, Zapp 4 is not at all out of line on a compilation cd with roaring sax-heroes, gentle singer-songwriters en extrovert balkan beats (like the Shouting Boots live! cd). Zapp 4 can do everything they can. But then on 4 string instruments. You do not have to be really adventurous to really love it.
Radiohunter Herman te Loo, Jazzflits, Januari 2010
String bands are doing well in the Netherlands. Earlier this year Elastic Jargon by Maurice Horsthuis completed a gorgeous album (Slag); now Zapp 4 (the 'new' name of the Zapp String Quartet) presents a new CD, a very special production.
The fact that the two violin players of the quartet (Jasper le Clercq and Jeffrey Bruinsma) also play in the group of Horsthuis is of course no coincidence.
All pieces on this new album are written by the group members, though pianist Jeroen van Vliet has a role as co-composer in the piece Unseen. That piece, together with the closing track Awakening, can be seen as the most 'classical' piece, because for those who do not know Zapp 4: only the instruments are classical. Many of the pieces on the CD are based on grooves, which is a good oppertunity for the group to show their rhythmical skills. For example 'De Hamer' and the title song, both compositions by viola player Oene van Geel, thus are turned into a perfect opportunity for adventurous solos.
Moreover, the Zapp 4 sound is very euphonious, a quality Jasper le Clercq uses to the max in his piece Bollywood, in which he is not afraid to use microtonality.
Neither does Zapp 4 shy away from emotions, as in the touching Awakening with
Emile Visser’s cello as its beating heart.
Let it be clear: "Radio Hunter” is a diverse CD, which, despite its many influences (Jazz, rock, world music, improvisation) still sounds consistent, thanks to the group’s good taste.
Radiohunter Rinus van der Heijden, Jazzenzo, December 19th, 2010
It was inevitable that the Zapp String Quartet would change its name to Zapp 4. “String Quartet” is a somewhat unlucky description, as it almost always refers to the usual four-man ensemble for which so many pieces are written in classical music. Zapp however doesn't work like a classical string quartet, so this is not a proper description of what they are, since all kinds of music of the whole world find their way to the four players. Improvisation also plays an important role in the concept of Zapp.
On Zapp’s previous recording, “Peculiar”, you could hear compositions by composers like John Scofield and Mark Feldman, but with their latest album “Radiohunter” the four band members chose to write all pieces themselves. Oene van Geel wrote four pieces; Jeffrey Bruinsma and Jasper le Clercq also contributed. On this fifth CD you can hear again how the quartet uses influences from different musical styles like funk, jazz, pop, classical and of course composed contemporary music.
It is striking that the approach of the players is different from their earlier CDs. Emile Visser frequently uses a percussive approach to play his cello, and the violins are not afraid of using that technique either. Exactly this percussion element makes the music of Zapp much more accessible and open, you almost want to dance on the music. Lyricism, like in 'Unseen', a piece Oene van Geel wrote together with Jeroen van Vliet, is sometimes dripping off the strings - which instrument is more suitable to make this kind of element sound? - but Zapp is also very good at rough rhythms like in the piece “the Hammer”.
Once again Zapp 4 juggles with timbres and colors, and explores the possibilities of the four string instruments even further. Maybe because Zapp only plays pieces written by themselves, the music sounds even more accurate and passionate. Sometimes they manipulate their string sound in such a way you think there were horn players in the studio. But this is not the case: Zapp has the power to show the world in a different way.
Peculiar: Zapp string quartet, a Dutch delicatessen with a nice bite.
Armand Serpenti, Trouw, April 12, 2008
String players who liberate their instruments from the compelling classical score are no exception in the jazz world. Violin players like Didier Lockwood, Jean-Luc Ponty, Regina Carter or Tim Kliphuis, cello players Ernst Reijseger, Tristan Honsinger, Stefan Braun or Hank Roberts, they all play themselves with original improvisations to the top, to range themselves between formerly great soloists like Stefan Grapelli, Joe Venuti or Oscar Pettiford.
But a whole string quartet with great improvisations? That's rare.
The Zapp String Quartet is unique. The players (Jasper le Clercq, violin, Friedmar Hitzer, violin, Oene van Geel, viola and Emile Visser cello) do not only communicate with each other very lively and witty while playing jazz, they express themselves with the same accuracy playing world music, pop, classical and modern music. Every musician who thinks he is adventurous and likes to cross the borders of genres, is immediately challenged by Zapp and wants to share a stage with them, not only in the Netherlands.
The players are presenting Zapp as a typical Dutch delicatessen with a nice bite, which also tastes very good outside the Netherlands. American and Canadian composers like Mark Feldman (a great jazz violin player himself), John Scofield, Allan Gilliland, Brent Fisher, Mike Keneally and Gene Dinovi, all well-known composers/musicians, were inspired by Zapp to write new music for the brand-new CD Peculiar.
The clear sound, the tight and groovy rhythms and the ability to make complex structures sound like simple songs, it's all very Zapp again, from the solid rock-rhythms by Scofield, the groovy pizzicato Oriental blues Exteebo by Mark Feldman, till the dark, more classical colors in Jelly by Jasper le Clercq, one of the five pieces written by the players themselves, because it's also very "Zapp" to contribute to the repertoire with own pieces. Oene van Geel wrote a few pieces with a good groove: the fast piece "Open the windi" and a more relaxed and expressive piece Picasso and Lump.
The arrangements are great too, like the beautiful ensemble-sound in the piece La Blues, where the Canadian piano player Gene Dinovi ( at the age of 85 a legend in the jazz world, as he is part of almost the whole history of jazz) shows his skills as an orchestrator. And Erwin Kroll, our national weather forecaster, certainly will like Wind Machine by Allan Gilliland. Summer breezes, an autumn storm, an approaching hurricane, they all are created by the dynamic music and playing. Another piece with much dynamic and turbulence is Gita Minor by Mike Keneally, in which the musicians make sharp corners. A brilliant CD!
Peculiar Draaiomjeoren.nl, 2008
After a tour in Canada in 2006 the musicians of the Zapp String Quartet asked famous musicians/composers from North America to write new music for them. Big names such as guitar player John Scofield and violinist Mark Feldman agreed. Part of this material can be found at Peculiar, the latest album by Zapp. Earlier this method was successful on their CD Passagio, for which Zapp asked their favorite Dutch musicians to do the same.
Also Peculiar is a real hit.
The album opens with Why Nogales?, a piece by John Scofield. After a short, dark pizzicato passage the melody unfolds, resembling Cuban or Latin American dance music. This is directly followed by the exciting start of Wind Machine, composed by Allan Gilliland. The music on this album has complex melodies and a mix of different techniques and Wind Machine is exemplary for this. Many fast pizzicato passages with a tight groove (making you forget that this is a string quartet and not a solid rock band!) switch to melodically complex interplay.
Another highlight is Exteebo of master violinist Mark Feldman, who is currently touring with guitar player John Abercrombie. This seems to have an impact on its composition, which is completely plucked. In particular, Oene van Geel’s viola is sometimes close to the sound of the guitar. How different is Undiscovered Rain Forest by Brent Fischer. Large, bowed lines and wide harmonies at the beginning of the piece result in a more classical sound, which stays throughout the piece.
The most pleasant of Peculiar is that the music is very diverse, but never forced. Throughout the CD it is clear that this music fits Zapp very well. The musicians show again that the string quartet outside the classical music is fully developing, and that there is still much to discover.
Peculiar Jazzenzo, by Rinus van der Heijden
Zapp String Quartet keeps going strong. Now the four string players have adapted work by guitar player John Scofield, keyboard player and vocalist Mike Keneally, violinist Mark Feldman, pianist and singer Gene Dinovi and bassist and percussionist Brent Fischer. This has made the CD very diverse, because all these composers come from totally different disciplines. Together with the Zapp String Quartet's own work this CD has so many different sounds that you don't know what to listen to first.
The advantage of the Zapp String Quartet is that they always have followed their own course. Not only in their playing, but also in the arrangements of other people's work. In the opening piece Why Nogales by John Scofield, little of the original is heard, as the Zapp String Quartet has turned it into something completely different; it somewhat resembles cabaret music. This is the first step, but as always you can hear influences of jazz, pop, contemporary composed and improvised passages, from world music and classical music.
The strength of the Zapp String Quartet is at its base: the quartet can do anything. Of course, other musicians can do that, but Zapp does it with such natural ease that it gives the music an extra dimension. Moreover, the four musicians each have their own approach to the music and their individual contributions ensure that music of this quartet never gets boring.
Peculiar Jan Klupper
The cover is as striking (it’s bright orange) as is Zapp String Quartet’s music. After many experiments with the most diverse musical styles from jazz to flamenco, now there is this brilliant CD Peculiar. The opening track is a melodious composition by John Scofield, played in a very rare folkloristic style. The song Wind Machine brings even more life into the CD, and resembles a swirling image of a cat playing the violin. Influences are various: from Country, Rock and Jazz all the way to Classical music.
The title composition Peculiar, also by Scofield, swings slightly by rhythm-violins. Emile Visser provides a heavy baseline.
Picasso & Lump and Open The Windi are two masterpieces by master violinist Oene van Geel. Modest in personality, so expressive in his music. Lyrical and demanding, seeking the farthest corners of the earth. Intelligent and fuzzy, and for many an exciting experiment. It is an experience not to be missed: a milestone among milestones in their repertoire.
Concert review: Zapp is delicious jazz-string quartet
Frans van Leeuwen, NRC, April 22 2008
Jazz: Zapp String Quartet concert review
Where: April 20, BIMhuis Amsterdam
Muscle music from Rotterdam Jasper le Clercq says to his satisfaction after playing Megamorth, written by percussionist Arend Niks. With this description Jasper is quite right, the piece has lots of powerful notes and chords, it is crystal clear and it ends with a big climax.
This piece comes from the previous CD, Passagio but much of the music being played comes from the new CD Peculiar, which is launched just weeks ago. But Megamorth clearly shows that the Zapp String Quartet has grown throughout the years. They have better attention for small nuances and the balance between enthusiasm and accuresse is much better.
The piece they play next in the BIMhuis is Exteebo by the American violin player Mark Feldman, this piece can be found on the new CD. It has a cheerful dancing character, and the four players play pizzicato throughout the whole piece. In this piece Emile Visser shows that playing guitar on a cello is not only reserved for Ernst Rijseger. Emile can also play a pizzicato walking bass.
Some pieces are not very clear, because some composers thought that they had to use the very flexible Zapp String Quartet to the maximum, so they wrote pieces with slow and fast tempo, popular and classical, staccato and legato. It brings much variation into the pieces but it is also easy to forget everything you hear, for example in the hybrid piece La Blues by the old piano player and singer Gene Dinovi.
Why Nogales? however, by guitar player John Scofield, the first piece on the CD, is very convincing. The Unisono melody, a mix between Bach and a Mexican mariachi-melody, is very strong and even after days you can easily recall the theme.
Wind Machine by Allan Gilliland is also a very cheerful song, played on a high level, with a solo by viola player Oene van Geel.
The encore proved that this delicious string quartet, with Friedmar Hitzer as a fine second violin player, also can play very tender and soft. During this piece the atmosphere on the stage was wonderful, showing that Zapp still has potential for many years of playing and developing.
Concert review: Zapp String Quartet, Provadja Alkmaar, October 9, 2008
Cees van den Berg
You can hear jazz, rock, funk, metal, avant-garde and folk music, but you look at a string quartet. You'll hear guitar, saxophone, drums, piano and bass, but you see a string quartet.
Like a good movie or book you see pictures that have never been screened. The Zapp String Quartet understands this art. You 'hear' a full jazz occupation. In La Blues cellist Emile Visser makes the sound of brushes with his bow along the side of his cello. The violins are regularly placed like a guitar and used as guitar, banjo, percussion, even washboard. The cello can sound like a jazz bass and can make growls. Even the floor of theater Provadja inadvertently gets the role of bass drum, when the four members in some incredibly funky pieces tap with their feet.
As a String Quartet Zapp has indeed the attitude of a jazz band. In their improvisations, themes and techniques they sound pure, sensual, raw, adventurous, soulful and funky. The joy of playing is very obvious to see. Zapp's strength is that they will convince you immediately about everything they do. Together the members are a jazz band, together they are a funk band.
The new piece by Oene van Geel called Trane Spotting refers unambiguously to tenor saxophonist John Coltrane. Coltrane on violin. Cool. The score is only used on the music stands as a reminder of the difficult passages, the four members have constant eye contact. Who will do what? Violinist Friedmar Hitzer sometimes fights an old-fashioned battle with Le Clercq. And as it should be, everyone wins.
Using humor in the announcements Zapp keeps the atmosphere light. During the playing they even laugh out loud. A few times viola player Oene van Geel softly sings along with his solo.
Much of the music you can also find on their newest CD, also named Peculiar. Pieces by people like John Scofield (Why Nogales" And Peculiar), Gene Dinovi (La Blues) and of course compositions by the players themselves (Picasso & Lump and Jelly).
For the audience the concert is not always very easy: The first set has a cheerful and exuberant atmosphere, set two has more complicated parts in it. You have to pay attention!
Zapp is far from done. With new music of their own and with a large jazz heritage there is still much undiscovered terrain left to the musicians. The more polished American Turtle Island String Quartet recently made a tribute to John Coltrane. Perhaps Zapp can boldly look into the Mingus repertoire?