36th Vilnius Jazz Festival. 12-16 October, 2022



Ernst Reijseger - vlo
Harmen Fraanje - p
Mola Sylla - voc, m’bira, xalam, kongoma

The trio played its first concert in the Netherlands in 2008. It was a spontaneous meeting in which they played together as if they shared a lifetime musical friendship. Today it pursues the same approach – risking, unpredictable and inimitable akin to a living and ever-changing organism.

The ensemble came about as a result of a long time friendship of Senegalese Mola Syllos and Dutch Ernst Reijseger. They collaborated for the first time in the 90s, and after Syllos settled in Amsterdam it had a new kick. The duo released a number of CDs, latest of which Requiem for a dying Planet features music for Werner Herzog films.

In 2008, Dutch pianist Harmen Fraanje joined the duo. The new trio continued recordings for Werner Herzog’s films, and in 2012 recorded Down Deep, an album presenting original compositions, which earned excellent reviews not only in Europe but also the USA and Australia.

The critics praised the trio for the most thorough integration of jazz, African and classical elements. According to the press, the impressive trio has fashioned its own language, one that may not be immediately understood, but still, one that is absolutely and unequivocally felt.

The trio’s music feeds from the musicians’ different musical and cultural backgrounds. The pianist Harmen Fraanje creates imaginative melodies at the crossroads of classical music and jazz, and the Senegalese musician Mola Sylla interprets his own cultural traditions with strong vocals and a charming selection of African instruments. The resulting musical mix is powerfully original, and not only crosses genre categories, but also completely transcends them.

Cellist and composer Ernst Reijseger belongs to the elite of free improvised and world music. He studied the classical cello, but left the classical music scene and followed his interest for improvised music and jazz. He started collaborating with adventurous musicians in search for their unique voice.

The jazz influence is by no means thoroughgoing: there are echoes of Bach’s music for unaccompanied cello, minimalism, and African drumming. Reijseger never does the same thing twice, and in fact the pieces resemble each other very little, which is quite an accomplishment for a disc of solo cello music.

The cellist has collaborated with myriads of performers such as French clarinettist and saxophonist Louis Sclavis, Norwegian accordionist Stian Carstensen, pianists – Italian Franco d’Andrea, Russian Simon Nabatov and American Uri Cain, cellists Chinese Yo Yo Ma and Italian Michel Sollima, percussionists – Indian Trilok Gurtu and African Serigne Gueye, British guitarist Derek Bailey, Scottish multi-instrumentalist Alan “Gunga” Purves, Amsterdam String Trio, Sardinian vocal group Tenore e Concordu de Orosei and the Dutch Chamber Choir.

Reijseger was a member of Theo Loevendie Consort, Guus Janssen’s Septet, Arcado string trio, Clusone trio with Michael Moore and Han Bennink, Misha Mengelberg’s Instant Composers Pool, Gerry Hemingway Quintet as well as trio with trumpeter Eric Vloeimans and guitarist Anton Goudsmit.

His album recorded with Groove Lele was awarded Trophée des Arts Afro Carabiéen and the performers were ranked the best group of 2010.

Reijseger formed a 90-colleague orchestra for a multimedia project dedicated to the centenary of the film director Manoel de Oliveira. The project was realised in collaboration with dancer Antonio Tavares and film director Tiago Pereira. Since 2004, the maestro has composed and recorded music for five films of Werner Herzog. He also took part in Ennio Morricone film music project.

Reijseger’s list of awards includes Boy Edgar (1985) for contribution to jazz and improvised music, Nord Sea Jazz festival award Bird Award (1995), and one of the most coveted Dutch prizes – Edison Award (2010).

Harmen Fraanje is considered to be one of the most promising and interesting young pianists in Europe. While still studying jazz and improvised music at the conservatories of Tilburg and Utrecht he started playing with some of the leading musicians in Holland.

The pianist’s vocabulary combines jazz, world and academic music elements. Curently he is involved in nine formations.

AllAboutJazz rated Harmen’s project with Avalonia as one of the best in 2010. The pianist has recorded a number of CDs with Par 4 Chemins involving drummer Toma Gouband and bassist Brice Soniano. Their latest CD also features flutist Magic Malik.

In addition, Fraanje is a member of two groups by Norwegian Mats Eilertsen, Mochael Moore’s Quartet and Clemens van der Feen’s group. He has collaborated with Kenny Wheeler, Mark Turner, Igor Roma and Christina Branco, recorded a solo album. The pianist teaches at the Conservatory of Amsterdam.

Vocalist and percussionist Mola Sylla made his European debut in the 80s with his first group Senemali and soon after settled in Amsterdam. He sings in his native Senegalese about the sufferings colonialism brought to his nation, plays various traditional African instruments including the ones he made himself. As saying goes, he brings music to anything he touches.

Mola Syllos’ unique vocal sound palette and improviser’s talent has enriched many a group. Together with Omar Sosa’s group he tours around the world. 

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