When Dutch saxophonist Dick De Graaf wanted to learn about traditional jazz, he came to its source in New Orleans. The musician, who plays soprano and tenor sax, has made many musical friends in the Crescent City. The listener can hear that influence in the work of the classically trained musician from the Netherlands.
In his own country, De Graaf is a notable musician and educator. He teaches saxophone at the renowned Rotterdam Conservatorium, and guest teaches all over the world. Students in Europe, West Africa, South Africa, New Zealand, and the United States have all honed their skills under De Graaf's expert tutelage.
De Graaf has logged two decades in the music business, as both a side man and a bandleader. A versatile player, De Graaf has worked with the big band sound in Frank Grasso's group, as well as with the Timeless Orchestra, who released a record of Glenn Miller tunes in 2000. De Graaf has toured with stars such asChet Baker, Kenny Wheeler, and Tom Harrell, adding his own unique sound on the tenor and soprano saxophones, as well as the occasional trombone.
The musical artist began releasing his own CD's in the early 90's. His first American release, Heartbeat, in 1994, won rave reviews for its innovative style and from Downbeat and other noted jazz reviews. Stepping Stones and Slo Mo are emblematic of the unique instrumentation found on the recording.
De Graaf chose the descriptive titleNew York Straight Ahead for his 1996 CD. He shows his skills on it as a producer and arranger, as well as musician. All of the pieces are collaborations between himself and his saxophone co-conspirator, Tony Lakatos. Their synergy is especially in evidence on their rendition of It Might As Well Be Spring.
Also released in 1996 is the CD, Sailing, in which the talented De Graaf doubles as player and composer. His own compositions, such as the title cut and Public Enemy are standouts, along with a soulful renditon of Wayne Shorter's Black Nile.
Polder, released in 2000, keeps on in the straight ahead style for which De Graaf is known, with gorgeous songs like Drie Gravinnen, Three Countesses; and Headhunter. Both are from the pen of De Graaf.
The musician's latest work is a jam with some of his New Orleans friends, notably, pianist, Peter Martin; bass player, Roland Guerin; and drummer Adonis Rose. Together then run through some blistering riffs on tunes written by Sidney Bechet, Dizzy Gillespie and De Graaf himself. Released in 2002, the CD is called Sound Roots in New Orleans. While not born in the Birthplace of Jazz, saxophonist Dick De Graaf has got the Crescent City feeling for the international language of jazz. ~ Rose of Sharon Witmer