Chris Abelen

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: August 10, 2020

Born: September 29, 1959

Dutch trombonist Chris Abelen (Tilburg, the Netherlands 29 september 1959) started out on trumpet at 11, switching to the bigger horn at 18. He studied classical trombone with Charles Toet and Henri Aarts, and then jazz and improvised music with Willem van Manen, founding member of and first trombonist with the Willem Breuker Kollektief, the band that first called global attention to Dutch improvised music. In 1984, Abelen took over van Manen’s old chair in the Kollektief from short-timer Garrett List, and would tour and record extensively with that band till 1988.

But Abelen had the urge to lead his own groups. At Willem Breuker’s annual Klap op de Vuurpijl festival in 1992, he led a pan-generational, pan-stylistic international tentet (including Ab Baars and Paul Termos in the reeds, tubist Larry Fishkind and Michael Vatcher on drums), showcasing the players with mini-concertos that demonstrate Abelen’s preoccupations with color, texture and mood, as well as his wry indirect sense of humor. The proof’s on the CD Proost (BVHaast).

But that was a one-shot ensemble. Abelen wanted a band. His first post-WBK working group had been a sextet including tenor saxophonist Tobias Delius and bassist Wilbert de Joode, which debuted on an earlier Klap op de Vuurpijl festival (1989). That evolved into a quartet with drummer Martin van Duynhoven—you can hear that lineup on the live title track to Abelen’s 2011 digital sampler Plint—later replaced by Charles Huffstadt. With the Proost tentet’s Corrie van Binsbergen added on electric guitar, this group became the leader’s signature outfit, the Chris Abelen Quintet, another band of distinct individual voices. The pieces could be highly melodic and/or densely busy, and the spontaneous arrangements were fluid, with no fixed solo routines. The composer/leader functioned as traffic cop on trombone: setting the tempos, calling back the melodies. A few pieces from the Quintet’s 1996 debut Dance of the Penguins return on 1999’s What a Romance, to make plain that fluidity and instant arranging. The 2004 follow-up Space was for another tentet: the Quintet plus Ab Baars on clarinet and the Zapp String Quartet.

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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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Links

ALL VIDEOS
Nobody told me

Nobody told me

Chris Abelen
Nobody told me

bye bye bloomingdale

bye bye bloomingdale

Chris Abelen
bye bye bloomingdale

Huub

Huub

Chris Abelen
A Day At The Office

Fix

Fix

Chris Abelen
A Day At The Office

Hoover

Hoover

Chris Abelen
Dance of the penguins

Chris Abelen Albums