Paul van Kemenade (short biography)

Paul van Kemenade ( altosaxophonist – composer – bandleader – organizer – producer)

1957 Rotterdam, Netherlands.

History :

He studied at the conservatories in Tilburg and Amsterdam and started in cabarets and nightclubs. Did play in a lot of national- and international bands such as Podium Trio (Wierbos-Van Kemenade-Kuiper), the Berlin Contemporary Jazz orchestra (Ed Thigpen, Kenny Wheeler, Benny Bailey), Contraband, Vaalbleek, the Surinam Music Ensemble, his Dutch quintet and many other bands.


Van Kemenade performed with dancers, poets, painters and international big bands.Tought hundreds of workshops and played and recorded with Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Cornell Rochester, David Murray, Sean Bergin, Markus Stockhausen, Niko Langenhuijsen, the Metropole Orchestra (Vince Mendoza), with the South African musicians Zim Ngqawana, Feya Faku, Sydney Mnisi, with the West African Les Frères Guissé, with David Linx, Eric Vloeimans, Han Bennink, Alexander von Schlippenbach, Pierre Blanchard, Aki Takase, Ernst Reijseger, Ray Anderson and many others. He worked on projects with symphony orchestras, brassbands, flamenco musicans, string ensembles and renaissance vocalists.

Current :

• Duo/Trio with Brazilian Mariá Portugal, pianist/keyboardist Jasper Van ’t Hof and altoist Paul Van Kemenade

• Van Kemenade’s quartet Three Horns and a Bass.

• Duo with German pianist Stevko Busch.

• His international quartet with American trombonist Ray Anderson, drumlegend Han Bennink and Ernst Glerum.

• Podium Trio (Wierbos-Van Kemenade-Kuiper), on request with US Jamaaladeen Tacuma & Cornell Rochester.

• Paul van Kemenade Quintet, also in collaboration with South African musicians Feya Faku, Sydney Mnisi, Louis Mhlanga.

• Ad hoc collaborations such as with renaissance vocal ensemble Cappella Pratensis, Duo with pipe organist Aart Bergwerff, duo with flamenco gitarist Maurice Leenaars etc

• Artistic director of the jazz and impro festival Stranger than Paranoia (since 1993)

Awards :

He has been presented with several awards such as the Dutch ouevre award the ‘Boy Edgar Prijs’ and received in 2007 a Royal decoration.


Recorded 60 cd’s and lp’s and produced several under his own name. His cd ‘Close Enough’ has been rewarded as one of best cd’s 2011 in the category ‘masterpieces’ (five stars) by the American magazine Downbeat. He composed over 200 compositions in total different settings and for various music disciplines.


Downbeat (US):  His alto darts and dives luxuriously, a rainbow feathered bird of paradise riding to the stratosphere. A lovely hover betwixt classical, composition and improv. 5*


Jazz Inside magazine (US):  Worldclass , very complete, a quiet gem.


Salt Peanuts (NO):  Brilliant. Interesting and beautiful compositions and arrangements. Van Kemenade surpasses himself.


Jazzquad (RU):  Van Kemenade is distinguished by his unusual creative activity and his unusual instrumentation and compositions.


Jazzman (F): Complete happiness of jazz. Masterful (choc).


Volkskrant (NL):  Fireworks, smoky  sound, high quality jazz. 5*


The Wire (UK):  An essential lyric player. Exquisite.


Jazzmozaiek (B):  The typical Van Kemenade style; his own sound and musical language and always straight to the point.


Jazzpodium (D):  Exciting ideas, a versatile saxophone artist.


The Guardian (UK):  Contemporary jazz to its fingertips.


Draaiomjeoren (NL):  One of those rare alto saxophonists with a full fat sound somewhere between Johnny Hodges and Earl Bostic.


Cadence (US):  Vivid creativity of writing, from Parker and Gil Evans back to New Orleans street music. Van Kemenade would have fit into a gospel group or a Ray Charles big band.


Friesch Dagblad (NL): Voorbeeldig en ‘In a sentimental mood’ is van onvergetelijke schoonheid.


Belorussia:  An inspirational, highly skilful alto saxophone performance by Paul Van Kemenade and  deep philosophical content.


Cadence (US):  A gorgeous sound, Van Kemenade shows while he can play sweet, echoing even Saint Johnny ‘Lily Pons’ Hodges himself,  he can be tart and biting as well. On the closing ‘In a Sentimental Mood’ the saxophonist covers that entire range in a majestic performance.


Jazzrytmit (FI): Keenly and beautifully. Moments of great intensity when Van Kemenade gets carried away and tears abruptly into his alto with great strength at high tones.


Ruhrnachrichten (D): One of the highlights of the Berlin JazzFest.


Cape Times (SA): This Dutch-SA collaboration glues together European and American jazz improvisations with warm-blooded South African music.



Paul van Kemenade ‘Jazzportret’ Dutch TV NPO/NTR may 2015






























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Paul van Kemenade (foto Guy Van de Poel)