Ack van Rooyen & Juraj Stanik
"The older I get the more I embrace silence and space" - Ack van Rooyen
Oftentimes when you don’t play, that’s where it happens. That’s where you bring the other musicians into play, invite them to be a part of the story telling. So many musicians fill up every bar, probably out of insecurity. It’s like when being in a conversation, one can be afraid of silence, afraid of the space between the words.
To me the key question is; what do you hear while you play? When you have developed the ability to hear what the other musicians are playing at the same time you are playing yourself, that’s where it gets really interesting, that’s where the notes turn into music.
Juraj listens while he plays and he has no shortcomings, there is a straight connection from his mind to his hands. We have played together for a long time, with Juraj I have no need for a rhythm section, we feel time the same way, we work hand in glove.
I was in New York in 1949, I had already heard the recordings but to experience Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Fats Narvarro in person was mind blowing. Later I was in Paris and heard and met Miles. We didn't talk much back then, when he wasn't playing he was busy looking into the eyes of Juliette Greco ;-), but his playing left a lasting impression.
I play the flugelhorn not the trumpet, it fits my personality. A trumpet is combative, with a trumpet you can go to war, I don’t like war. I’ve been lucky that embrochue was never a problem for me, my brother Jerry, who was a fantastic trumpet player, always had to work on his chops, whereas I, even now, just need to find the right spot on my lips. But of course I always have my mouthpiece at hand in my breast pocket, I do my exercises every day.
Read more: Soft Shoulders - Ack van Rooyen & Juraj Stanik
It was wonderful working with Frans and Peter. They really know how to create a creative atmosphere by making everyone feel at ease. And the sound is topshelf. I can hear every little detail while also hearing the depth of the hall. Chapeau!
Ack van Rooyen
You just turn the switch dear, it's just acting...
While making Ingmar Bergman’s 'Autumn Sonata', Swedish actress Liv Ullmann described the different approach she and her co-star of the movie, Hollywood legend Ingrid Bergman, had in preparing for a scene. Liv would be closing herself off getting 'into character', all the while out of the corner of her eyes she could see Ingrid telling jokes and laughing with the coffee lady. But the moment the director called action, she would switch on the spot and become the character she was playing, forcing Liv to give it her utmost in order not to be blown off the set. When Liv inquired how she was able to get into character so instantaneously, Ingrid replied; "You just turn the switch dear, it's just acting, not life and death".
Recording 'Soft Shoulders' with Ack van Rooyen, (born 1930) and Juraj Stanik, (born 1969) reminded me of that story. After setting up and getting the levels right, we had lunch which was a real treat as Ack was generously telling anecdotes and answering questions about his life in music, his thoughts on teaching music and life in general. Afterwards I accompanied Ack, down to the studio space, where Juraj was already busy warming up on the piano. Before going back up to the control room, I went by the cafeteria to pick up a cup of coffee for Frans. The moment I arrived back in the control room, I heard Ack’s voice through the speakers saying: "I think that was a keeper….. Frans?.... Peter?....what do you think?". First take was in the box.
The list of people Ack worked with in his 75 year long career is endless, to name a few; Miles Davis (Montreux festival), Gil Evans Orchestra, Clark Terry Orchestra, Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Lee Konitz, Toots Thielemans, Steve Gadd, Jan Gabarek, Kenny Clarke, Niels Henning Ørsted Petersen, Aimé Barelli Orchestra (Parijs), Peter Herbolzheimer Big Band, WDR Big Band, Dutch Jazz Orchestra, Metropole Orchestra, SFB Bigband, Süd-Deutscher Rundfunk Orchestra and the Clarke-Boland Bigband.
Creating a Visual Sound...
This recording is true to the visual image of Ack and Juraj in the hall. Juraj is to the left at 10 o’clock and Ack to the right at 2 o’clock. We captured not only the 2 dimensional placement of the musicians but also the depth and wideness of the hall. Creating a Visual Sound is a question of moving the microphone slightly forward and backwards and listening critically. I must say that I keep being impressed by Frans de Rond’s expertise in this field.
The album was recorded with the Josephson C700S microphone. We did support the piano ever so slightly with a pair of DPA microphones just to add a hint of definition.