Wim Dijkgraaf

contemporary composer & jazz harmonica player

Press

August 12 (New York, NY) Written by Dave Franklin

Wim Dijkgraaf Hidden LandscapesI have to confess that harmonica led jazz is not my normal area of expertise, but that’s fine, it just means that I get to drop my bag of well-worn indie clichés and pop puns and approach the music like the wide-eyed music lover that I have always been. And there is a lot to love here.

The album is nothing if not musically exploratory and a wonderful reminder that music is just as expressive in telling stories as lyrics are. The slow build and percussive drama of Cold War, the sweeping grace of Nirvana, the skittering, the fractured beauty of Danilissmo and the more traditional beats of Prepared Prayer all evoking images and setting scenes far better than any words could.

But music is a transaction between the composer and the listener and without the limitation of words, the music paints pictures and conjures ideas and scenarios that are limited only by the listener’s imagination, irrespective of the composer’s intentions, you are the interpreter here, this is your dream. In just one listen I saw galaxies dying and being reborn, nighttime city streets, I viewed the world from the top of mountains and I swam in its deepest oceans. All that and I hadn’t even had breakfast yet.

And the idea of music as a film score or even an acoustic story in its own right is further reinforced by the tantalizing use of found sounds, street conversations, running water, random noise and other sonic minutiae from everyday life. Maybe this album is a film waiting to be made, a role reversal that sees the music dictating the story rather than following its lead. I’m not sure what those would look like but I know I would be at the front of the queue for tickets.

Musically, Hidden Landscapes draws lines connecting South American landscapes with sophisticated European jazz clubs, others which link chilled soundscapes with ambient film scores and then it connects places and thoughts, emotions and stories that have no business being connected. Stare at the pattern of those lines for a long time, and then shut your eyes. The stars dancing behind your eyelids is the music of this outstanding musician.

Music has many varied functions, some is designed to fire you up ready for a night on the town, some is a chilled wave to relax to, some inspires you to change the world, some gives you an escape from it. This is more like the music of the isolation tank, music which requires your complete emersion demands that you just exist within it, become one with it, heavy meditation, a solitary experience. Some music is aimed at the brain, is intelligent and intricate, some at the heart, emotive and alluring, Hidden Landscapes does nothing less than aim for your very soul.

Review by Mike O’Cull, independent music journalist. www.mikeocull.com

Wim Dijkgraaf Hidden LandscapesAmbient jazz harmonica music is not a style this reviewer encounters very often but that is just what Wim Dijkgraaf does. Forget everything you’ve ever heard come out of a gob iron in the past because this isn’t that. Far from the honking, gritty blues playing most listeners associate with the harmonica, this is smooth and flowing music that just happens to have harmonica playing as its centre. On his latest effort, Hidden Landscapes, Wim displays compositional skills as well as playing ability, having written all the songs presented here. He is a skilled contemporary composer and has a natural talent for sonic experimentation that makes him more than just someone playing an instrument.

Hidden Landscapes is full of the kind of sophisticated yet transcendent music Wim Dijkgraaf has made his trademark. One of his stated goals is to inspire and lift the spirits of those who listen and he succeeds at this very well. Honestly, these kinds of compositions are not the kind in which one expects to hear the harmonica and, thought the two are very different in style, the overall effect is like hearing Bela Fleck put the banjo into new contexts for the first time. The culture shock of it is what makes it so compelling. Unless you’re already hip to Wim and what he does, this music will come as a welcome surprise.

The compositions on Hidden Landscapes are all very good and the record goes down very well as one long listen. The tracks pack more texture than shredding instrumental work, although the level of play is quite high. The opening track, “Principe Panqueca,” is the kind of jazz ballad environment most listeners would expect a saxophone to appear on but what you get is beautiful chill harmonica with spoken-word overlays. Brilliant. Other standouts include “Prepared Prayer,” “Cold War,” and “For Them And Those Who Don’t.”

Wim Dijkgraaf is not your usual harmonica man and has a record here that makes a strong and individual creative statement about ignoring boundaries and pursuing art. If Coltrane played harp, he’d probably sound something like this. You’re gonna want to give this a listen.

June 6, 2011 (New York, NY) Written by Leslie Connors for JazzTimes.

Sometimes the stars are in perfect alignment; beneath the blanket of light and shadow magic is born.

The wizardly offspring in this case is Dumee & Dijkgraaf Quinteto’s new album, “Heloisando,” which seems to exist in a world of its own. “Heloisando” rejuvenates Brazilian jazz with the pristine, haunting strands of classical music. On “Cipriano,” Jan Dumee’s guitars weave webs of hypnotic, translucent beauty. But the group is capable of more than just awe-inspiring slow-motion gorgeousness. On “Entre Rio e Belo Horizonte,” Wim Dijkgraaf’s fiery harmonica propels Kiko Continentino’s driving piano to new heights as Dumee’s breakneck acoustic riffs and Marcio Bahia’s pummeling drums reach for the skies.

In what can be seen as a blueprint for future jazz acts, reflecting the wonderfully expanding melting pot of today’s America, Dumee & Dijkgraaf Quinteto is stitched together by international passports; with members from the Netherlands, Minas Gerais, and Rio de Janeiro, their musical inspirations are eclectic, united by a general affection for jazz. According to Dijkgraaf, the idea for the band arose after he met Dumee at a jam session in the Netherlands four years ago. “He played bass that night and did a lot of Brazilian percussion,” Dijkgraaf recalled. “We had such a nice musical click, mainly because it was immediately apparent to me that he approached Brazilian music in a much more free way then what I was used to in Brazil. His approach was that of free jazz but applied with a lot of knowledge and respect to the standard Brazilian repertoire. We started talking and became good friends instantly. Following was a period of four years of playing with lots of musicians mainly in the Netherlands when I was there. It was his unexpected trip to Brazil in December 2010 that made us decide to record an album with our ‘dream team’ in Brazil.”

‘Dream team’ is certainly an apt description for Dumee & Dijkgraaf Quinteto. There is a transcendent quality to the group’s music, one that becomes increasingly apparent with each spin of “Heloisando.”

May 6, 2011 (New York, NY) Written by Robert Sutton for JazzCorner.

Dumee & Dijkgraaf Quinteto deliver original and compelling take on Brazilian jazz

Acoustic guitars that flow like liquid. Crystalline, tinkling piano. Swirling harmonica. A haunting voice. Those are the enigmatic sounds that open Dumee & Dijkgraaf Quinteto’s new album, Heloisando. Rooted in Brazilian jazz and classical influences, Dumee & Dijkgraaf Quinteto eschews genre conventions for an original and highly compelling style.

Featuring guitarist Jan Dumee, harmonicist Wim Dijkgraaf, pianist Kiko Continentino, bassist Paulo Russo, and drummer Marcio Bahia, Dumee & Dijkgraaf Quinteto create music that is the result of an international exchange of flavors and inspirations based on the members’ backgrounds in Europe, Minas Gerais, and Rio de Janeiro. They add up to an exotic and particularly invigorating collective, offering a consistently inventive and dazzlingly energetic performance.

On “Entre Rio e Belo Horizonte,” Dijkgraaf’s harmonica is especially commanding, almost breathless in its relentless energy as Continentino’s rollicking piano, Dumee’s jamming guitars, and Bahia’s frenzied drumming build up a wall of steam.

It’s exhilarating to see tightly-knit musicians lock on such an infectious groove. Dumee & Dijkgraaf Quinteto is a true band, one whose individual components result in a powerhouse unit with no weaknesses.

Nevertheless, there are solo moments that shine as well. On “Sonhando De Amor,” Continentino’s lovely piano conjures an atmosphere of glorious tranquility. It’s almost as if Continentino – and the group itself, actually – is trying to capture the therapeutic calmness of nature. Dumee’s spiraling riffs on “Cipriano” is equally spellbinding.

May 12, 2011 (New York, NY) Written by Bryan Rodgers – courtesy of ARIEL PUBLICITY
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

The proud tradition of innovative Brazilian jazz is alive and well as evidenced by Heloisando, the debut album from Dumee & Dijkgraaf Quinteto. This isn’t the hip-shaking, overtly sexualized dance music of Brazil, but rather a thoughtful, inclusive jazz style that nods to several different forms within a colorful equatorial framework. Headed up by Dutch musicians Jan Dumee (guitar/vocals) and Wim Dijkgraaf (harmonica), the five-piece group featured here draws inspiration and influence from diverse musical and cultural backgrounds. Along with the Netherlands-born namesake duo, the band includes Brazilian jazz heavyweights Marcio Bahia (drums), Paulo Russo (double bass), and Kiko Continentino (piano). Their collective pedigree is remarkable, and their talents are deftly showcased throughout the album. Dumee and Dijkgraaf bring a European jazz flavor to the rhythm section’s sensual South American rhythms, and the result is a dreamy, peaceful collection of songs that foster relaxation while allowing the mind to wander along with the band’s melodies.

Surprisingly, there are no traditional Brazilian songs or covers to be found on Heloisando. Each track was written by Dumee, making for a unique experience. The band’s sound is inherently unique due to Dijkgraaf’s expert harmonica work. The instrument boasts few true virtuosos and a reputation for more blues-based inclusion. In the process of imparting his personality into his playing, Dijkgraaf shows just how engaging, emotional, and diverse the harmonica can be. He’s allowed to run rampant over Dumee’s compositions, sometimes matching Dumee’s vocals with equally sensitive tones as on the opener “Heloisa,” and other times creating breathless, note mongering solos as heard in “Entre Rio e Belo Horizonte.” Dumee’s guitar playing resides in a similar realm, and the two complement each other beautifully. Though the music is primarily instrumental, there’s no shortage of feeling. The first time Continentino is turned loose for a piano solo, the listener is held captive by his ideas. With Dumee succinctly strumming in the background and Bahia providing a cloyingly complex rhythm, the track takes on a resounding vibe of tranquility. Dumee’s plaintive yet pleading vocal weaves around the music like a gentle breeze, but it’s not all calmness and serenity. The end of the song finds the band playing around with each other to create a neat improvised coda.

Every track includes memorable musical moments from each band member, but some stand out as touchstones. Dumee’s exceptional acoustic guitar flair on “Entre Rio e Belo Horizonte” gives the song some streetwise grit. Dijkgraaf’s lightly effected harmonica strains on “Sonhando de Amor” evoke the mystical sound of the flute. “Sonhando de Amor” also displays the band’s ability to blend styles. The drums and bass craft a timeless-sounding jazz beat while Dumee glides above with slippery acoustic guitar lines. Each solo seems more lyrical than the next, and the sheer amount of musicality in action is astonishing. The lighthearted “Rodinha” provides Dijkgraaf with a swaying backdrop that brings bossa nova to mind, and he makes the most of it with typically inventive playing.

Even without the one-of-a-kind sound that the harmonica affords, this album would be a success. When Dijkgraaf drops out, the remaining foursome creates plenty of heat on their own. Dumee surfs upon the sultry swing with clean, clear tones while the unflappable Russo urges him along on bass. “Cipriano” is a folky tour-de-force, the beginning of which consists of Dumee and Dijkgraaf riffing on a slightly Mediterranean melody. Dumee’s wordless vocals invoke a spiritual side, and the rest of the band enters with unmatched grace. The nine tracks that comprise Heloisando are nearly unmatched in combining entertaining instrumental work and carefree atmospheres. There’s no doubt that all of the musicians on the album have the ability to set listener’s brains ablaze with rapid-fire playing, but their restraint proves endlessly fruitful.

Review by Bryan Rodgers

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