matthieu donarier: saxophones
albert van veenendaal: piano, prepared piano


Matthieu Donarier & Albert van Veenendaal's Planetarium: 
The Visible Ones
Many say there isn’t such a thing as “European jazz”, but this duo encounter between French saxophonist Matthieu Donarier and Dutch pianist Albert van Veenendaal most certainly proves otherwise. "Planetarium" however, a name which is a declaration of intents in itself, is different again, also far from setting out to oppose the European tradition to that occurring on the other side of the Atlantic, which, after all, is the very source of the music played here in “The Visible Ones”: Jazz. Jazz indeed, but with a distinct chamber music format drawing just as deeply on the classical music tradition.

Donarier’s personal style is especially elegant, like Warne Marsh or Mark Turner, but with a colour and feeling all of his own: the concept and vision of the music yet different again. Most of his career was developed in the company of European musicians like Daniel Humair, Gabor Gado, Alban Darche, S├ębastien Boisseau and Stephan Oliva, Donarier’s own bands (Kindergarten, Wood, Dragoon, M.D.Trio) exclusively from the Old Continent, but this doesn’t imply a separatist attitude (Donarier has been playing and recording these last years with Tony Malaby or Dave Liebman). Indeed, what you will hear in Planetarium is no “less jazz”, even if it embraces another perception of how to handle sound.

The same goes for van Veenendaal, known for his work with fellow piano players (Cor Fuhler, Sylvie Couvoisier, Jozef Dumoulin), composing for woodwinds (Calefax, Amstel Saxophone Quartet) and applying his “pictorial music” ideas to his own groups Pavlov and Spoon3+1Fork. Inspired by John Cage, he is dedicated to expanding the sound of the piano by preparing it, both in his solo project Minimal Damage and recently in a duo with master percussionist Alan Purves.  

So here’s an European jazz that Americans can enjoy: a universal Planetarium which projects its own music way beyond conventional frontiers and perceptions.

Albert van Veenendaal and Matthieu Donarier met in September 2009 when both their trios merged into an exciting sextet project, playing several concerts in Holland (e.g. in th Bimhuis and Jazz International Rotterdam). The train that took Matthieu Donarier from Paris to Amsterdam passes the industrial and modern city of Rotterdam. Its breathtaking skyline inspired him to compose, while travelling, a short and descriptive duo piece for soprano sax and piano, entitled “Blue Rotterdam”. Albert and Matthieu played it as an opening piece of their sextet gigs and…a duet was born. 

Both being innovative and creative musicians, always on the search for new ways of Jazz, they discovered they are speaking the same language. Their improvisational idea’s merge seamlessly and their timing, even in playing rubato melodies, is as if one voice is speaking. Excited by this discovery, in December 2010 and June 2011 they met in Albert’s studio in Amsterdam to record new compositions and explore musical idea’s. Hot Stuff! In the beginning of March 2012 they came together in Le Mans, France for another recording session and two try-out concerts. 

And now, in 2015, their duo is exploring new horizons, asking master drummer Michael Vatcher to join them for several concerts in Holland, for example in the famous Amsterdam Bimhuis in December and the exceptional jazz venue in Baarle Nassau. 

contact: Matthieu Donarier - Albert van Veenendaal

photo: Monique Besten

Review "The Visible Ones", Jazzflits, may 2014

[..] Because the Portuguese quality label Clean Feed has released their music it might get a wider range. And these tracks, composed by both musicians, deserve it. What stands out across the board, is the strong sense of form. Nowhere we get the simple layout of a theme with variations. The improvisations are fully embedded in the whole and that makes this album from note to note worth listening. Nothing is superfluous. The soprano saxophone played by the Frenchman is crystal clear and flawless (like Steve Lacy's) and the prepared piano by Van Veenendaal delivers fine, exciting rhythms, now and then nicely rocking and never intrusive.

Herman te Loo, Jazzflits, may 2014
First Rehearsals with master drummer Michael Vatcher in Albert's Amsterdam studio. january 2015

La Fonderie

Between February 27th and March 3rd Matthieu and Albert rehearsed and recorded new material in La Fonderie in Le Mans (Fr). This former Renault Factory is the cultural heart of Le Mans, buzzing with activity. A fantastic and inspiring place to create. At the end of their residence week they gave a concert in the recording hall.