Upon concluding another season of premium jazz productions, Amsterdam’s iconic Bimhuis celebrates further high notes with the latest edition of their annual Oud and Nieuw (Old and New) Festival. Expect New Years Eve here to include plenty of typical Netherlands improvisations : creative, humorous and obviously unique.
The show has become a “must see” musical attraction for the city and this year’s program sold out well in advance, adding to a streak that shows no sign of faltering.
This year’s program features a bittersweet blast of homegrown horn power as local legends of the venerable Willem Breuker Collective play the final stand of their more than 35 year run. An eleven man ensemble is scheduled for a brief set that will conclude the live portion of the New Year’s show and cap off a sold out three day engagement.
For this farewell tour’s grand finale theme honoring Breuker, the namesake bandleader who died in 2010, legions of adoring Dutch fans verified the collective’s continued popularity by their presence in the ticket line.
The evening will be opened by a pair of Holland’s most enduring players, the drummer, and former Breuker band mate; Han Bennick and pianist Louis van Dijk, with bassist Ernst Glerum. Next, popular actor Felix Strategier provides vocals for pianist Wolfert Brederode and celloist Ernst Reijsegar performing songs by Herman de Coninck. Multi-media DJ Peter Kok provides the vibe after that, until around 3am.
While many regional establishments faced uncertain, even devastating economics during 2012, the Bimhuis has managed to maintain a strong combination of steady, paying customers and governmental artistic subsidies. Politics and personnel may change, but the high standard of mainstream and experimental music offerings does not.
2012 highlights featured over 300 concerts, including many sold out shows by top talent like Lonnie Smith, John Scofield, Christian Scott and Brad Mehldau. There are also many regular, free workshops and jam sessions throughout a musical calendar that holds music almost every night of the year. A strong blend of Dutch artistry adds to the mix, with Bimhuis serving as the prime location for showcases like the Dutch Jazz and World Music conference.
“Within the Amsterdam live music community, the Bimhuis has definitely carved a niche of its own that is unique on the forefront of new music,” said Pieter van Adrichem, head of Marketing and Communication. Public relations aside, that could still be somewhat of an understatement.
Since opening at a different location in 1974, the Bimhuis has played host to progressive pioneers like Sun Ra and Charles Mingus. The present location, part of the larger, canal-sided Muziekgebuew complex, opened in 2005 and carries on the tradition well. December 31st offers further compelling evidence that the Bimhuis presides on the summit of jazz clubs anywhere.
“Besides Paradiso, which isn’t a jazz club at all, there is no venue in Amsterdam with anything close to the reputation the Bimhuis enjoys,” reports All About Jazz correspondent Phillip Woolever. “In a place with so many excellent performance halls, that’s even more impressive.”
Amsterdam’s extended midnight New Year’s pyrotechnics reach near insanity levels. Bimhuis perimeters offer spectacular viewpoints from a relatively serene perch, separate from the central street madness.
As usual, there are guaranteed fireworks inside the Bimhuis, too.