Paul van Kemenade (short biography)

Paul van Kemenade ( altosaxophonist – composer – bandleader – workshopleader – organizer – producer) 1957 Rotterdam Netherlands.


Van Kemenade started studying in 1974 at the conservatories in Tilburg and later on in Amsterdam and began his career playing in cabarets and nightclubs. He performed in lots of (inter)national bands such as the: Podium Trio with Wolter Wierbos and Jan Kuiper; the Berlin Contemporary Jazz orchestra (Alexander von Schlippenbach) with a.o. Ed Thigpen, Kenny Wheeler, Benny Bailey, Gerd Dudek, Aki Takase; the Contraband (Willem van Manen); Vaalbleek (Niko Langenhuijsen); Surinam Music Ensemble; Paul van Kemenade Quintet; Duo Van Rossum-Van Kemenade and many other ensembles.

Van Kemenade performed with dancers, poets, painters, international big bands. He taught hundreds of workshops and played and recorded with a.o. 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 with symphony orchestras, brassbands, flamenco musicans, string ensembles and renaissance vocalists.


  • Van Kemenade ‘Classic’ Quintet (Van Vliet-Van der Westen-Bast-Boudesteijn)
  • Van Kemenade & Three Horns and a Bass (Verploegen-Mahieu-Boudesteijn)
  • Duo Stevko Busch-Paul van Kemenade
  • Ray Anderson-Ernst Glerum-Han Bennink-Paul van Kemenade
  • Duo Budha Building a.k.a. Hans Timmermans-Paul van Kemenade
  • Artistic director jazz-impro festival Stranger than Paranoia (since 1993)
  • Workshopleader Zuid Nederlands Workshop Orkest/initiator Art of Tolerance Youth Orchestra

On request with:

  • Podium Trio (Wierbos-Van Kemenade-Kuiper), with US Jamaaladeen Tacuma & Cornell Rochester.
  • Van Kemenade ‘Classic’ Quintet, also with South African Feya Faku, Sydney Mnisi, Louis Mhlanga.
  • Collaborations with a.o. renaissance vocal ensemble Cappella Pratensis; Maroccan oud player/ singer Majid Bekkas.
  • Mariá Portugal-Jasper Van ’t Hof-Paul van Kemenade (duo/trio)
  • Three Horns And A Bass feat: Mlangeni-Yenana-Naidoo


Van Kemenade received several awards during his career:

  • 1984:       Podium Prijs (Stichting Jazz In Nederland)
  • 1998:       Jazz in Duketown award
  • 1999:       Moderne Industriestad Prijs Tilburg
  • ’98/’99:    VPRO/Boy Edgarprijs (Dutch ouevre award for jazzmusicians)
  • 2007:       Lid Orde van Oranje Nassau 2007 (Royal decoration)
  • 2020:       Prins Bernhard Cultuur Prijs Noord-Brabant

Cd’s and compositions:

Recorded 60 cd’s and lp’s and produced 27 under 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 more than 260 compositions in different settings for various music disciplines.


Van Kemenade started to teach workshops and masterclasses in 1979. He was the initiator of the Brabants Leerorkest pfor young musicians, performing between 1979 till 1984

At the moment he is coaching since 2018 the Zuid Nederlands Workshop Orkest youth orchestra for musicians between 15 and 25 years. Together with Jeroen Doomernik he is coaching youngsters at  Paradox Tilburg and the Jazzwerkplaats Den Bosch Netherlands.

Since 2021 he is trying to set up the ‘Art of Tolerance Youth Orchestra’ which will be an international youth orchestra for talented musiciens from different countries. The music students come together for a short period on a yearly base. They have the opportunity to rehearse and play together in order to help, learn from.. respect.. and stimulate each other.

Festival Stranger than Paranoia (since 1993):

Paul van Kemenade is the initiator and programmer of the intimate jazz-impro festival Stranger than Paranoia that is been organized every year in late december in several cities in NL. Stranger than Paranoia combines different musical disciplines and cultures with improvisation as the binding element.


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 Kemenade’ (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 ‘Cultuur Prijs Noord-Brabant’ 2020

Cultuur Prijs 2020 Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Noord-Brabant


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

Jazzhelden — Jazzportret Paul van Kemenade