2014 (what about) WORDS concert review (ENG)

Big Bizar Habit inaugurates TivoliVredenburg with dignity CONCERT REVIEW. Big Bizar Habit. TivoliVredenburg Utrecht, April 23 2014

Photo's: Gemma van der Heyden

By: Rinus van der Heijden

In a building where even its personnel does not know its way around, the coffee machine is in use for the very first time, the lines for the bar are taking frightening proportions and the entrance to the concert hall can only be reached through an elevator with a bell boy, the very first concert was taking place this evening. Big Bizar Habit was the lucky performer. 

The concert was taking place for two reasons. For the brand new TivoliVredenburg downtown Utrecht it was the try-out of the concert hall Cloud Nine; for Marc van Vugt and Ineke Vandoorn, leaders of Big Bizar Habit it was the presentation of their new cd ‘(what about) WORDS’. Both the new music building, the musicians and the audience can look back on a successful experiment. Cloud Nine, where in the future mostly (jazz) concerts will be organized, enriches the Dutch music scene. And Big Bizar Habit delivered again the unrequested proof that this handful of musicians is among the top of this country. Guitarist Marc van Vugt was shinning of pride. Specifically he and his partner Ineke Vandoorn managed to be granted to stage the very first jazz concert in the new TivoliVredenburg. That happened in Cloud Nine, a hall that shone as much as Marc van Vugt, but here by beautifully polished wood, that as tight as a mirror dominates the big concert hall. Higher up a mezzanine, from where you can oversee the room completely with a view from above at the bar, a higher stage and the lack of unnecessary frippery at the walls or ceiling. 

New cd

Big Bizar Habit performed the divers pieces of the new cd ‘(what about) WORDS’ as a suite. That was tactically a very strong find because in this way it became even more clear that Marc van Vugt is a multi-facetted and very strong composer. The suite is full of diversity, full of space for solo achievements and of clever use of the orchestration. In a far past Marc van Vugt wrote mostly for chamber orchestras. Therefore it is not surprising that he describes Big Bizar Habit as a jazz chamber orchestra. The core of the line-up is the classical string quartet: two violins, viola and cello. Add to that 4 horn players: two on trombone, one on flugelhorn and one on alto saxophone. Joined by the composer on guitar, Ineke Vandoorn on piano and as the vocalist and double-bass player Paul Berner. With such a line-up you can go in every direction. And that is what happens. So there was a pleasing duel between originally plucked and later bowed viola, cello and acoustic guitar. From there tempos and rhythms grew, being born absolutely organic from what preceded. Doom and gloom came down from the instruments of the horns, moving an instant later, on some escaped air from Robin Eubanks's trombone, to another - almost inaudible - route. Musicians and the audience were hereby shown the way by drummer Joost Lijbaart.

American Eubanks was flown in for this event. It was intriguing to hear how he at a certain moment became his own echo in a duet with violinist Merel Vercammen. And again seemingly careless connected one concert fragment to another: Eubanks’ echo opened the way for a singing Ineke Vandoorn, this time not in front of the orchestra, but molding her vocals from behind the piano.

Guided improvisation

In short Big Bizar Habit provided constantly elaborate, guided improvisations in which every musician fitted his or her contribution: Angelo Verploegen on flugelhorn, Louk Boudesteijn on trombone, Paul van Kemenade on alto, Herman van Haaren on violin, Mary Oliver on viola and Saartje van Camp on cello. Plus of course the previously mentioned instrumentalists. 
Highlight of the concert was a part of the ‘Ubuntu’ suite, Marc van Vugt has been working on since 2005. Ubuntu is a concept from one of the South African languages en means as much as: I am because we are. A philosophical concept that propagates peace through reconciliation. A call that once came from the South African bishop Desmond Tutu. The theme of ‘Ubuntu’ was interpreted unprecedented by Marc van Vugt's guitar. It was caught in that everlasting melodic beauty that signifies that South- and West- African music. Those cultures are mostly based on singing forms and therefore it was nothing more then logical that Ineke Vandoorn supported the melody singing. It was by the way remarkable how Ineke Vandoorn's musicianship has evolved. Her collaboration with the Indian tabla player Sandip Bhattacharya will certainly have resulted in her precise interpretation of the alap-singing style. That happened (too) short in a quick laid down vocal moment that looked like a vocal improvisation, supported by the violin viola and alto. 

Two trombones

Memorable was also the duet of the two trombones as an intro of another vocal piece for Ineke Vandoorn. She can easily handle the eleven other musicians and if it looks like she can't it is of her own choice. Than indeed she makes her voice be part of the total orchestration. The concert of Big Bizar Habit was because of this thought out, well chosen, with an eye for detail, conscious awareness for the orchestration and loaded with craftsmanship in all solo parts. The cd '(what about) WORDS' contains part two and three of the so-called 'Collectables'-series that will cover four parts in total. Recordings for this were made during the course of the last ten years during the Van Vugt/Vandoorn concerts. There are so many recordings that a precise choice can be made to 'fill' the cds. The newest double cd and the previous 'White' that contains part one, proof this. Cloud Nine has been inaugurated inspiringly. The hall will be mainly used for jazz concerts, but classical music will not be out of place in the acoustics of it. Based on the tenth floor is Cloud Nine one of five halls of TivoliVredenburg that together can contain seven thousand visitors. The City of Utrecht grants a subsidy of 7,8 million every year of which three and a half million is spend on the rent of the building.


Tivoli Vredenburg fas been designed by Herman Hertzberger. Realization cost 148 million euro, exceeding the budget with fifty million euro. TivoliVredenburg has to raise every year thirteen million euro in revenues to break even. The try-out concert has, with a full house contributed its first share.

• April 2014

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