Paul van Kemenade (short biography)

Paul van Kemenade ( altosaxophonist – composer – bandleader – workshopleader – 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 by Alexander von Schlippenbach (Ed Thigpen, Kenny Wheeler, Benny Bailey), Contraband by Willem van Manen, Vaalbleek by Niko Langenhuijsen, Surinam Music Ensemble, Paul van Kemenade 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, 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 :

  • In duo and trio with Brazilian Mariá Portugal and pianist/keyboardist Jasper Van ’t Hof.
  • Van Kemenade’s quartet Three Horns and a Bass (Boudesteijn-Verploegen-Mahieu).
  • In duo with German pianist Stevko Busch.
  •  International quartet with American trombonist Ray Anderson, drumlegend Han Bennink and Ernst Glerum.
  • Paul van Kemenade ‘Classic’ Quintet with Jeroen van Vliet, Eric van der Westen, Pieter Bast and Louk Boudesteijn.
  • In duo with electronic musician Budha Building a.k.a. Hans Timmermans.
  • Three Horns And A Bass feat: Mlangeni-Yenana-Naidoo.
  • Artistic director jazz/impro festival Stranger than Paranoia (since 1993).


On request:

• 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 with renaissance vocal ensemble Cappella Pratensis, in duo with flamenco gitarist Maurice Leenaars; with Maroccan oud/vocalist Majid Bekkas a.o.

Awards :

He has been presented with several awards:

  • Podium Prijs (Stichting Jazz In Nederland S.J.I.N.) 1984.
  • Jazz in Duketown Award 1998.
  • Moderne Industriestad Prijs Tilburg 1999.
  • VPRO/Boy Edgarprijs 1999/2000 (Dutch ouevre award).
  • Lid in de orde van Oranje Nassau 2007, a Royal decoration.
  • Prins Bernhard Cultuur Prijs Noord-Brabant 2020.

CD’s / compositions:

Recorded 60 cd’s and lp’s and produced over 30 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 250 compositions in total different settings and for various music disciplines.

Workshop & Masterclasses:

Van Kemenade started to teach workshops and masterclasses in 1979. He was the initiator of the Brabants Leerorkest that performed from 1979 till 1984 for young musiciens. At the moment he is initiator of the Zuid Nederlands Workshop Orkest ( since 2018); a youth orchestra for musiciens between 15 and 25 years. He is coaching youngsters together with Jeroen Doomernik at the Paradox in Tilburg and the Jazzwerkplaats in Den Bosch/NL.

Festival Stranger than Paranoia (since 1993):

Paul van Kemenade is the initiator and programmer of the intimate festival Stranger than Paranoia that is been held every year end december in three cities in the Netherlands. It combines totally different musical disciplines and cultures and it crosses international boundaries for more than 26 years.


Jazzenzo (NL) een artistieke ontlading zonder weerga, een moment van verbijsterende schoonheid. Muziek die je niet, nee nooit meer loslaat. (januari 2020)


Jazznu (NL)Rijpheid Van Kemenade en Busch overspant acht jaar. (januari 2020)


NRC (NL**** Ongekende allure in het spel van Van Kemenad’ (cd: Stranger than Paranoia, april 2019)


NRC (NL) **** Fantastic album, musicians reach great height. (cd: Daytime Sketches, may 2017)


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

Jazzhelden — Jazzportret Paul van Kemenade