Chris Abelen

Instrument: Trombone | Location: Amsterdam

The troubling themes and musical expressiveness of Songs on the eve of dismissal are suggestive of a dramatic theater piece or opera, and indeed, Abelen and Geleijnse are finalizing the script for a stage production comprising the Songs. But the wonderful thing about this recording is that you can either get out the Kleenex or enjoy the music the way you would any great jazz vocalist with a terrific band. This dual function of jazz is part of a tradition. You can listen to Billie Holiday or Frank Sinatra either way. It’s only possible with a composer, lyricist, singer, band, and arranger like those in this album who know how to make it work.
—Victor L. Schermer, All About Jazz

Updated: December 31, 2018

Born: September 29, 1959

Chris Abelen (born September 29, 1959 in Tilburg, the Netherlands) is a jazz trombonist, composer and bandleader. Abelen started his professional career as a member of the Willem Breuker Kollektief. After he left this band in 1988 he started to form his own bands. All compositions for these bands are written by Abelen, from a jazz quartet to a big-band.

Chris Abelen started, as many trombonists, with the trumpet (at the age of 11). At the age of 18 he switched to the trombone. He started to study classical trombone with Charles Toet and Henri Aarts, and after 4 years switched to Amsterdam to study with Willem van Manen, former 1st trombonist of the Willem Breuker Kollektief. When Van Manen left, shortly replaced by Garrett List, Abelen started to perform with the Kollektief in the summer of 1984. After extensive touring with this band he left at the beginning of 1988, to start his own band, and to perform with others.

The first band was the Chris Abelen sextet, with Tobias Delius, Bo van de Graaf, Wilbert de Joode, Martin van Duynhoven and Jan Kuiper. Their first perfomance was on the Klap of the Vuurpijl, a 5 days festival, organized by Willem Breuker between Christmas and new year's eve in Amsterdam. Unfortunately the Dutch Radio Broadcast Corporation lost the recordings of this concert. After some concerts Abelen decided to continue with a quartet, so Kuiper and Van de Graaf left the band. The Chris Abelen Quartet performed once, for a VPRO radio broadcoast in O42 in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. From this recording the title track Plint is on the EP Plint (CAMP 005), with a great tenor solo from Delius. After this one- time concert Abelen decided to replace Martin van Duijnhoven by Charles Huffstadt, and asked Corrie van Binsbergen to join the quintet. They started in the studio with a recording of Dance of the Penguins (1996). A 2nd live album was recorded in 1999, What a romance. Before starting this Chris Abelen Quintet, Abelen was commissioned for a 2nd time to write for the Klap op de Vuurpijl for a 10- piece band, with Ab Baars, Paul Termos, Frans Vermeersen, Eckard Kolterman, Eric Boeren, Larry Fishkind, Michael Vatcher and Wilbert de Joode. Years later (in 2002) Abelen decided to release these recordings and produced his 3rd album PROOST (dutch for 'cheers'). The 4th album, Space, was recorded with the quintet, a string quartet (Zapp4) and Ab Baars on clarinet. In 2016 Abelen released his 6th album, A day at the office, for a septet with a new line-up, with Angelo Verploegen, Floris van der Vlugt, Tini Thomsen, Thijs Huijbens, Ulrich Wentzlaf and Yonga Sun. This album is part of a new project which Abelen is working on with Bastiaan Geleijnse, a Dutch cartoonist (Fokke & Sukke), who is writing the text and lyrics.

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Band camp Jazz Pick - Jan. 2018 (Songs on the eve o dismissal) A gospel for those consigned to cubicle life, Chris Abelen’s new album captures the angst and ennui of the career office employee. The trombonist’s octet maintains a whimsical tone throughout, but nothing about the lyrics give the impression of irony. The vocal delivery of Lorena del Mar creates an intriguing tonal contrast between the delivery of the lyrics and their meaning, an effect amplified by some lovely harmonic work between trumpet, trombone, alto and baritone saxophones. Minus the choir, this project has a lot of similarities to that of Max Andrzejewski´s HÜTTE and The Homegrown Organic Gospel Choir treatise to the love of food… a Bandcamp Jazz pick from back in the day. -Dave Sumner

Fiona Ord-Shrimpton’s comment on ‘Fix’ [3rd track of A day at the office] (AAJ): ‘The pharmacy was closed when the many tired ghosts of Miles Davis decided to in vivo freak this band

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