VERS! That’s Dutch for ‘Fresh!’ And it’s also the name of the new programme from the New Rotterdam Jazz Orchestra. VERS! is the latest collection of compositions by band members. VERS! refers to the texts of Derek Otte: “The New Rotterdam Jazz couldn’t be fresher…” And VERS! stands for fresh and exciting collaborations.
The New Rotterdam Jazz Orchestra (NRJO) is a permanent presence on the Rotterdam scene. The band has performed countless concerts with national heroes such as Anton Goudsmit, and international artists like Joshua Redman and Phronesis. And the orchestra already has four acclaimed albums under its belt. Not that surprising when you consider that they are all top-class musicians with established careers on the national and international jazz scenes.
In 2018, NRJO began collaborating with spoken word artist Derek Otte. From Rotterdam, Otte debuted in 2015 with a collection of poems called Regelgeving and his second volume, called TOFLOF, appeared recently. Otto tells it like it is with a down-to-earth attitude and choice of words. In 2017 he was Rotterdam City Poet for the second time. The NRJO labs led to a tight-knit collaboration between Otte and the orchestra, and the result is fresh!
Within the framework of ‘100 years of jazz in Rotterdam’, NRJO invited another special guest: keyboard player Jason Lindner. He’s a familiar figure for the orchestra. In 2010 they appeared on stage together at the North Sea Jazz Festival. So high time for another musical meet-up. When it comes to exploring new, electronically inspired paths, Lindner is lightyears ahead of the pack. On The Buffering Cocoon, the most recent album from his trio Now vs. Now, the keyboard player has long ceased to think in terms of the piano, but instead allows himself to be guided by previously unheard-of sounds that he produces on his synthesizers. He’s equally comfortable working with figures like Meshell Ndegeocello, Lauryn Hill and Mark Guiliana. David Bowie recognized his quality and promptly gave Lindner a central role on his very last album Blackstar.
Finally, Jazz International Rotterdam asked NRJO to write a composition about ‘100 years of jazz in Rotterdam’. And since the orchestra is so forward-looking and fully committed to the future of jazz in the city, the youngest orchestra member, guitarist Jelle Roozenburg, was entrusted with this honourable task. Derek Otte will contribute words.