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Leo Cuypers

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Dutch pianist Leo Cuypers played drums as a child before switching over to piano, and while he attended a conservatory in his hometown of Maastracht for a few years, he was largely self-taught. During the 1970s, he played in the bands of such fellow Dutchmen as pianist Misha Mengelberg and saxophonist Theo Loevendie, but his best-known association was with saxophonist/composer Willem Breuker. Cuypers was a key member in Breuker's Kollektief for much of the 1970s, and during this time, the two co-founded the BVHaast label ("BVHaast" translates to "Hurry Inc.," a reference to the pair's habit of working under tight deadlines on their film and theater music projects). He also led his own groups during this era, recording albums that included Live in Shaffy (1974), Johnny Rep Suite (1974), and Zeeland Suite (1977). (The latter two were paired for a 1994 CD release on BVHaast). Cuypers took on a lower profile during the 1980s and 1990s, as he had left the Breuker Kollektief as a result of a spat with the leader and was recording infrequently on his own. The witty pianist's profile rose somewhat in the late '90s/early 2000s, however, resulting from his role in Kevin Whitehead's in-depth book on the Amsterdam jazz scene, New Dutch Swing, and also from the reissue of his scarce 1981 LP Heavy Days Are Here Again as part of Atavistic's Unheard Music Series. ~ William York


December 1, 1947 in Maastricht, The Netherlands

Years Active:

'70s, '80s, '90s, '00s