WATERLOO, OCT. 14, 2014 --- In a small Dutch village near the German border a boy picked up a saxophone, and started a musical journey many years ago that brings him back to The Jazz Room on Friday, Oct. 17th.
The composer, lyricist and vocalist Norbert Kogging begins a six-city tour of Canada with his gig at The Jazz Room with a pocketful of new recordings from his latest CD, "Sketches of Ordinary Life." The young Dutch jazz artist has a deep affinity for Canada and Canadians.
"You have a beautiful country and it really is a pleasure for us to travel around, so it's really beautiful," Norbert says in a telephone interview with New City Notes from his home in the Netherlands. "And you have beautiful venues, and the people are really warm, and they welcome the music very much, actually, that's the main reason."
After learning the alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, Norbert played in a big band in his home town. but he soon fell in love with the songs of Frank Sinatra. After discovering Old Blue Eyes, the horns stayed in their cases and Norbert learned to sing.
"I still like Sinatra a lot, but it's slightly different than what I do with my group, but it is one of the basics of where it came from for me."
Norbert did a Master's Degree in Jazz Vocals at the Conservatory of Amsterdam in 2009. Part of his Conservatory studies included the Banff Centre's Creative Music Winter Residency. Norbert has fond memories of working in a hut nestled among the peaks of the Rocky Mountains at the Banff Centre.
"You get up, you take your coffee, you go to your hut, you practice, you write, you do whatever you want to do there, but you just work, work your ass off, which I really, really liked and enjoyed," Norbert says. "It has been tremendously important for me."
He wrote several songs at the Banff Centre. Back in Amsterdam he was drinking with his friend and pianist, Folkert Oosterbeek. They decided to form a band, develop the songs Norbert wrote in Banff. They signed up drummer Felix Shlarmann and bass player Tobias Nuboer. The quartet is called KOGGING,
The foursome returned to Banff and recorded the debut CD "Daydreaming." The first club they played afer recording that CD was Yardbird Suite in Edmonton. Norbert and his bandmates maintain a special affection for the Edmonton club, one of the longest-running jazz venues in North America. They will return to Yardbird Suite during the upcoming Canadian tour.
Norbert moved to Amsterdam years ago to study jazz at the Conservatory. He loves the city, and its vibrant scene. Earlier this month, the 33-year-old singer and composer moved his wife and one-year-old daughter to Harlem, a very old and beautiful town 15 minutes by train from central Amsterdam. They bought a house there. Norbert rides the train in and out of the Amsterdam where he keeps a studio for teaching students, and reharsing with KOGGING inbetween gigs.
Folkert is his constant musical collaborator. Norbert will write the words for a song, and have a melody in mind as well, before bringing the material to Folkert.
"We are good friends as well, so we work a lot together," Norbert says. "I always come up with all the ideas, and when I get it to the point where I think it is good to work with somebody, a different look at it, then I go to Folkert."
KOGGING's second CD is intensely personal for Norbert.
"What I found important for now was that I just wrote about actually myself, and what kept me going for the last couple of years," Norbert says.
The birth of his daughter in 2013 was a big influence on the band's second CD. As well, the influence of social media on our 21st Century lives, especially Facebook and Twitter, informs "Sketches of Ordinary Life."
"That was the whole, main theme of the CD," Norbert says.
KOGGING's music can be hard to label. It is vocal jazz, for sure. It is also influenced by indie, pop and singer-songwriters. KOGGING calls the music "singer-songwriter jazz."
You can see at a glance how important non-profit jazz societies are becoming in Canada. Four of the six gigs KOGGING plays on this visit will be hosted by jazz societies.
* The Jazz Room (the Grand River Jazz Society) in Waterloo, Friday Oct. 17th.
* The Rex Hotel and Jazz Bar in Toronto, Saturday Oct. 18th.
* The Avalanche Bar (Georgia Straight Jazz Society) Courtney, B.C., Thursday Oct. 23.
* The Basement (Saskatoon Jazz Society) Friday Oct. 24th.
* The Yardbird Suite (Edmonton Jazz Society) Saturday Oct. 25tth.
* The Arts Station, Fernie, BC, Oct. 26.
The latest CD features Michael Moore on alto sax, clarinet and bass clarinet. Unfortunately, Michael will not be on this Canadian tour because of his busy schedule.