It may assume like an odd move from a artist who, on the one hand, has spent abundant of his career creating jazz-filtered deconstructions of pop songs by the brand of David Bowie, The Police, Björk, Blondie, Abba, and Radiohead, and on the added hand, accommodating with applesauce heavyweights such as Misha Mengelberg, Paul Bley, Paul Motian, Gary Peacock, and Pat Metheny.
Honing, however, is annihilation if not a chameleon. Orient Express (2002), a accord with Lebanese and Iraqi musicians, saw Honing burrow into his allure with Arabic music. Symphonic (2006) commutual Honing with Vince Mendoza and the 51-piece Metropole Orchestra, on a programme that included Weather Report and Joe Zawinul tunes. Honing’s adulation of classical music birthed the Schubert-inspired Winterreise (2007). With musicologist/recorder amateur Erik Bosgraaf on Auberge Terminus (Brilliant Classics, 2013) Honing explored the antecedent of baroque, jazz, rock, and cyberbanking music.
No music is out of bounds. It’s all allotment of Honing’s agreeable accomplish up. So too, the ability of history and art, poetry, and literature. White Tiger (Jazz In Motion, 2010), by Honing’s two-guitar Wired Paradise band, was alleged afterwards the Man Booker Prize-winning atypical of the aforementioned name by Aravind Adiga. “Bits of Paradise” from takes its appellation from a book of abbreviate belief by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Fitzgerald. “There’s a lot of art that inspires me,” says Honing. “I try to augment myself from my surroundings.”
Honing, who describes himself as a workaholic, has a avid appetite. “If I appetite one assemblage of achievement again I charge three or four units of input. All the artists I apperceive assignment this way,” he says. “It agency you accept to augment your border as abundant as you can.”
Honing relates to David Bowie, who acclimated his ache for books and ability to augment his music. “There’s this little book about some of the books Bowie read…” says Honing, in advertence to John O’Connell’s Bowie’s Books: The 100 Literary Heroes Who Changed His Activity (Bloomsbury, 2020). “Like Iggy Pop, Bowie apprehend a lot, and any book that he apprehend he acclimated it for a song. I assignment the aforementioned way. It can be books, fiction, poetry, and abnormally paintings.”
The ascribe that produced Bluebeard, saw Honing asperse himself acutely in analysis on the fable of Bluebeard. Conceivably the best accepted adaptation of the adventure is attributed to the columnist Charles Perrault, appear in Histoires Ou Contes Du Temps Passé, Avec Des Moralités in 1697. Added acclaimed tales written/adapted by Perrault in the accumulating included The Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella. All of these accept larboard their mark on accepted culture, but maybe none added so than Bluebeard. It is a bogie account like no other.
A affluent nobleman, Bluebeard seduces and marries adolescent woman, slaughters them, and suspends them from meat hooks in a abstruse alcove of his château. Bluebeard’s own fate is no happier a one, murdered by his final wife and her siblings. It is not the array of account to apprehend to your accouchement at bedtime. Jack Torrance did aloof that to his three-year-old son in Stephen King’s atypical The Shining (Doubleday, 1977) and attending how that affronted out
Honing joins a continued account of artists who accept begin afflatus in the adventure and apologue of Bluebeard: Bela Bartok; Sylvia Plath; Fritz Lang; and Kurt Vonnegut, are aloof a few of the abounding artists who accept translated the bleeding adventure into opera, poetry, blur noir and atypical adaptations. Bluebeard has additionally been acclimatized for the theatre, ballet, cartoons, banana books, as able-bodied as lath and video games.
Bluebeard, a adventure about power, corruption, animal curiosity, trust, and betrayal, acutely touches article abysmal aural the animal psyche. The words ‘bluebeard’ and ‘bluebearding’ accept entered English dictionaries, blame appropriately a wife murderer, and addition who seduces and abandons women. “You accept all this actuality blow about [Jeffrey] Epstein and [Harvey] Weinsteinthey’re appealing abundant bluebeards,” says Honing, underlining the abreast acceptation of the folktale.
Honing thinks he aboriginal came beyond Bluebeard in the assignment of acclaimed Dutch columnist Paul Huf. “As a kid we had a photo book with texts. I bethink that all the pages were blue, with this admirable naked woman who was axial in the story. I was aloof bugged by it and threatened by it at the aforementioned time,” Honing explains. “It had this amative band in it. These are combinations that I like, and actual important capacity in animal life.”
For Bluebeard, Honing’s fourth recording with his acoustic quartet of Joost Lijbaart, Wolfert Brederode and Gulli Gudmundsson, the saxophonist and artisan begin afflatus in “Sonnet VI” (more frequently accepted as “Bluebeard”) by Pulitzer Prize-winning artist and author Edna St. Vincent Millay.
“Everything about Bluebeard I had begin online acquainted clichéd,” says Honing,” but again I begin this little agreement by Edna St. Vincent Millay. Besides the actuality that the affection of it was incredible, it was a radically altered outlook. She fabricated Bluebeard into an idée fixe.”
In Millay’s sonnet, Bluebeard’s wife enters his banned allowance breadth she finds not corpses but cobwebs. Her concern leads her to abandon Bluebeard’s assurance for nothing. Millay, curiously, casts Bluebeard in a affectionate light. This adventurous originality, and the dash in Millay’s interpretation, were abundant to blaze Honing’s own imagination. He began basic the music for Bluebeard.
The aperture tack, “Bluebeard Maze,” sets the accent for the anthology as a whole. The adjustment is spare, Honing’s tenor saxophone agreeable and meditative. Subtle, about brainy harmonium and vibraphone textures affect the music like a apparitional subplot. Again there are bagman Joost Lijbaart’s abashing rhythms.
While pianist Brederode, bassist Gudmundsson and Honing comedy in 6/8, Lijbaart plays in 5/8, missing one eighth agenda every bar. His accents on bass and allurement drums appear aback atomic expected. The consistent rhythms are both ambiguous yet abnormally hypnotic, imparting a array of dainty feel to the music. Honing describes it as “slightly threatening,” alveolate his adolescence acknowledgment to Paul Huf’s photography.
Those who feel the access of Allocution Talk’s Spirit of Eden (Parlophone, 1988) on Bluebeard would be blast on the money, admitting Honing’s avenue was added circuitous. “Actually, it started with Radiohead. If you anticipate that a accumulation is that acceptable again you should bulk out why, and breadth the armament are. I begin out that Radiohead is based on three sources: one is The Beatles; one is Jeff Buckleywithout Jeff, Thom Yorke would be nowhereand the third one was this one record, Spirit of Eden, by Allocution Talk, because if you accept to that you basically apprehend Radiohead. In this way I rediscovered that record,” Honing explains.
Honing is absolute in his acclaim for Allocution Talk’s final two albums: “Spirit of Eden and Bedlam Stock [Verve, 1991] are masterful. They accepted what I abstruse a continued time ago from pop music, which is that an anthology should be like a absolutely acceptable novel, so that wherever you alpha you get the accomplished account instantly. That was a adept appetite of mine.”
The influences on Bluebeard are assorted and run deep. On the cautiously pulsing, lyrically breakable “Narcissus,” for example, Honing drew afflatus from two rather assorted abstracts in Caravaggio and Vivaldi. “One of Caravaggio’s paintings is alleged Narcissus,” explains Honing. “Caravaggio has my absorption for abounding reasons. There’s blush and beef and pace. He was like the aboriginal activity painter in history. He did it so fast, it was incredible.”
Baroque music is never far from Honing’s sound, and Bluebeard is no exception. “I was alert to all the Stabat Maters I could lay my easily on,” reveals Honing. “In the end I begin the one by Vivaldi. It aloof hit me. The centre allotment of “Narcissus” is like a accolade to Vivaldi. I capital this baroque-ish thing, so it’s in nine eight.” Honing talks of alive with these account on “Narcissus” until “the accolade came.”
Other song titles on the anthology additionally accredit anon to their antecedent of influence. “She Walked In Beauty, Like The Night” is the appellation of a agreement by Lord Byron, admitting Honing admits to actuality aloof as taken by some of the choral adaptations of this agreement that abound. “It was a combination. Sometimes a admixture of altered capacity can become a song. I anticipation of the accent that a woman of that adorableness would accept aback she walks into a room. Some women apperceive how to walk,” he laughs. “I thought, ‘how would it sound?’ And that is how I started working.”
In arguably the album’s boldest stepand appearance a absolute abandonment from annihilation he has attempted afore on recordHoning recites “Sonnet No. 6” by Edna St. Vincent Millay. “It was a bit of a blow and it acquainted actual awkward,” admits Honing.
It was Honing’s partner, the painter Mariecke van der Linden, who abiding Honing to recite it himself, rather than use a built-in speaker. “We formed through the agreement for a few hours to accomplish abiding that the acceptation was actual clear,” says Honing. In the end, the account was recorded in one take, with Honing accompanied alone by Wolfert Brederode on harmonium, arena the aforementioned chords as on “Bluebeard Maze.”
“I had fun with it,” says Honing, “but you know, you accept to affected stuff. I appear from jazz, and for me accomplishing actuality that is abroad from what you are acclimated to accomplishing is frightening. But I accept abstruse over the years that actuality afflictive is usually a actual acceptable sign,” he laughs.
Not continued afterwards recording Bluebeard Honing recited addition agreement at a canonizing for a dear, ancient friend, in avant-garde of fifteen hundred people. “I affectionate of like it because balladry is like music. You can do music with it. So, what I do with addendum I can do the aforementioned affair with these words. It’s an absorbing area. The articulation is so incredible. I additionally listened a lot to Dylan Thomas himself reciting his poems. It articulate like singing to me. Of course, I see my saxophone as a voice, added than as a saxophone,” Honing adds.
Honing’s saxophone has the final word, so to speak, on the album’s final track, “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Acceptable Night,” breadth the saxophonist stretches out with a affection that contrasts starkly with the additional affection of the music on the blow of the album. “I anticipation of Dylan Thomas and ‘rage, acerbity into the night…,'” says Honing. “I anticipation that the anthology should end with a very, actual affronted Bluebeard. He doesn’t annihilate this wife but gives abroad his alcazar because she didn’t account his privacy.”
Even as Honing’s tenor howls and rages, he still bound the cardinal of addendum that concluded up on the album. “When I listened aback in the flat I thought, ‘Well, if you accept to aloof two account of this abandoned the point is made, so let’s achromatize out.'”
An abridgement of addendum has continued been a anteroom mark of Honing’s playing, but on Bluebeard conceivably added so than ever. “I like space. Music is a artefact of silence,” says Honing. “What I absolutely like about these absurd musicians that I am able to assignment with is that they accept why I charge this minimalism.”
Honing attributes his embrace of less-is-more to a alive moment in his backward adolescence aback he heard Bill Evans. “He played a ambit with three notes, and every time he did that, I heard four,” recalls Honing. “I thought, ‘There’s a affair I appetite to do.’ It’s the aforementioned with acting. At the moment aback article absolutely adverse happens, a absolutely acceptable amateur almost moves anything. I try to do the aforementioned affair with music, so that bodies can ample in what is additionally there, because I apperceive that there is a lot added there than I play,” he says enigmatically.
“I accept assertive addendum for assertive affidavit but there are chords beneath and all sorts of ambience there. In that way the music is accessible, but it has depth, which is important, so any adviser can accept how abysmal he or she wants to go. I like ambuscade complications, because I don’t like complicated music that is complicated for the account of actuality complicated,” Honing explains. “You accept to accept absolutely acceptable affidavit to complicate stuff.”
In Honing’s access it could be said that there are echoes of Samuel Beckett, the Noble Prize-winning biographer who seemed hellbent on eliminating words altogether, analytic for the music of silence, the best he wrote. The allegory angelus with Honing. “My engineer, who is a baby acquaintance of mine, consistently jokes ‘I apprehend any moment now that there will be an anthology with you not arena at all,’ Honing relates, laughing.
From antecedent atom of an abstraction to final fruition, Bluebeard was painstakingly, acquiescently crafted.
“I’m a actual precise, actual slow-working composer,” says Honing. “To be alive on a song for a brace of months is actual accustomed for me.” It is maybe no abruptness to apprentice that addition affection of Honing’s is sculpture.
The block of the music is exemplified on “Narcissus,” breadth Lijbaart plays three addendum on a mini xylophone. “It’s alone three addendum but I wrote them bottomward for him to play,” Honing laughs. “I appetite these three addendum there because I apperceive it will accession the game, you know. It’s additionally what I abstruse about agreement from Misha [Mengelberg], he said: ‘Before you address it bottomward you should apprehend it actual acutely and accomplish assertive it’s the best accessible complete at that accurate place.’ I took that to affection abounding years ago.”
Bluebeard, in fact, is allotment of a beyond activity in bike with painter Maricke van der Linden, which involves the music with paintings and sculpture. Honing describes the activity as a Gesamtkunstwerk -total artwork. It is a abstraction that Honing and van der Linden accomplished about Honing’s anthology Goldbrun (Challenge Records, 2017).
On Goldbrun, Honing channelled his passions for classical music, history, and art. The concepts of Europe and boldness were at the centre of that album, with the music of Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss accouterment accurate inspiration. Honing and van der Linden apparent the music, paintings, and accession art, at the Building De Fundatie, in Zwolle, in 2018. An exhibition of agnate architecture based about was due to be captivated in the aforementioned building amplitude in May, but the COVID-19 communicable affected its postponement.
Goldbrun won Honing an Edison Award, the Dutch agnate of the Grammy. It was Honing’s additional afterwards award, afterward that accustomed for Desire, and his third in total, fifteen years afterwards acrimonious one up for Seven (Jazz in Motion, 2001), recorded with applesauce legends Paul Bley, Paul Motian and Gary Peacock.
For best applesauce musicians, anonymity with the accepted accessible is the norm, but Honing is able-bodied accepted in his home country. Desire was not alone the best acknowledged Dutch applesauce anthology of 2015, but the highest-selling anthology overall. Clearly, Honing represents added than aloof jazz.
“I’m absolutely acutely into art and I’m allotment of the accomplished agitation about cultural contest and how you should advance and abutment it,” says Honing. “But also, what absolutely helped, to be honest, was there acclimated to be a allocution appearance in Holland for fifteen years that was actual popular, and the being who presented it was a acquaintance of mine. He aloof admired my music, so I was on his appearance many, abounding times, so at some point bodies apperceive you.”
Pop ability and pop music are aloof as important to Honing as the jazz, classical and folk music that inspires him. “There’s so abundant we can apprentice from pop music. Applesauce musicians tend to do a apathetic ballad, again a bossa nova, again article fast and again a blues, maybe in a altered key. Pop musicians don’t anticipate that way. They tend to accept added focus. They think, ‘what is the anthology about? ‘all the time, and I like that. Pop music accomplished me how to compose. If you accept to Bowie, for example, it’s aloof one acceptable idea. One acceptable abstraction does the trick. I aloof accumulate on appliance that. I never accepted all this actuality about genres and the way you should accept to them,” says Honing.
“All the greatest applesauce musicians that I apperceive listened a lot to classical music and additionally a lot to pop music. I apperceive Charlie Parker was a big fan of [Edgard] Varèse. I apperceive Wayne Shorter knows aggregate of [Arnold] Schoenberg; I apperceive that because I apperceive all the assignment of Schoenberg, so I apperceive breadth Wayne got the melody for “Nefertiti,”” Honing says, laughing. “And it’s fine, we all steal.”
Honing credibility to 2016 as a banderole year in pop music. “Bowie’s Black Star was released, again Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool, again A Skeleton Tree by Nick Cave, who I’m a big fan of too, and again a ablaze anthology You Appetite it Darker by Leonard Cohen. Those four albums, in one year, affectionate of agape me out. The affection of everything. What can I do with my saxophone to assignment off these influences?”
One access that abounding applesauce critics aspect to Honing is Jan Garbarek, a allegory that Honing can chronicle to, admitting conceivably not in the way the critics imagine. “People are consistently talking about it, but I don’t see abundant connection. I like him, but I never acclimated him as a reference. I acclimated [John] Coltrane, and Jan Garbarek, aloof like me, is a adolescent of this heritage. He’s so specific about what he wants to play, and in that faculty we’re similar.”
There are several added saxophonists, however, whose access Honing is alone too blessed to acknowledge. He describes Lester Adolescent as “the greatest affair I anytime heard in my life,” admitting it was addition tenor abundant who absolutely affronted Honing assimilate jazz. “I got into applesauce by Stan Getz, by accident.” Honing describes “accidentally” activity on a ancestors anniversary to Montreux, in 1977, at a time aback he was belief classical music. The anniversary coincided with the Montreux Applesauce Festival, breadth a Columbia artists All-Star concert featured the brand of Dexter Gordon, Benny Golson, George Duke, Maynard Ferguson, and Getz.
“My ancestor had appointed this auberge and I was in this auberge allowance aback Stan Getz was arena saxophone in his bathrobe on his balcony. I thought: ‘These guys aloof do what they like, and they accept so abundant fun. Stan Getz played that night and he played “Infant Eyes” with Bob James on keys, and he agape me out. Annihilation that I anytime heard from Stan Getz is annihilation beneath than authentic beauty. For me, he’s one of the abundant saxophone players of all time.
“The added guy that I listened to a lot that cipher talks about is Dewey Redman. He was absolutely an afflatus to me, abnormally the years he was with Keith Jarrett’s American Quartet with Charlie Haden. I anticipation it was absurd stuff. He’s so underrated. He could comedy angrily as well, but aback he had his nights, he was a blood-soaked miracle.”
The artist Honing knows bigger than any, however, is bagman Joost Lijbaart, with whom he has collaborated back the 1980s. The brace met a year afore both began belief at the Conservatory in Amsterdam. “We were with a baby accumulation of musicians alive our asses off, day and night. We aloof advised and played as abundant as we could, and we formed as adamantine as we could. That was one affair we had in common,” Honing relates.
“By the end of the Conservatory, afore we did our final exams, we had a conversation. I said, “There are two things we can do. We can become assassin accoutrements and delay until the buzz rings, or we can do it ourselves and anon alpha alive internationally. Holland is such a baby country and there is so abundant competition. It’s absurd to accomplish a appropriate active here. So, we absitively to do it ourselves.
“It turns out that I was appealing acceptable with columnist and agreeable development, and Joost was appealing acceptable at alignment the gigs. We absolutely fabricated a accord and that accord is still going. We’re appealing boxy on anniversary other, but the abundant affair with Joost is that we still get forth We’re like an old marriage,” Honing says, laughing.
Honing and Lijbaart’s agreeable adventures accept taken them all over the world. Inevitably, they accept encountered a all-inclusive bulk of aboriginal music forth the way. Honing is bright about which music has had the greatest appulse on him. “That will be the Arab music tradition, after a doubt,” he states. “There were two axis points. The aboriginal was aback we got into the Middle East for like ten years, and I aloof fell in adulation with the music of Umm Kulthum, and the Rahbani brothers of Fairouz. We got absolutely actual abysmal into that repertoire.”
It was advertent the maqams, or Arabic adapted modes, that would accept the best abstruse aftereffect on Honing’s access to music. “What we alarm the aboriginal ambit amid addendum is like a C to C#, but in the Arab apple they accept ten distances. So, I accept abstruse to tune abundantly precisely. On the added hand, there’s like a anguish in Arabic music that is consistently present. In a way, like blues. I acquisition it absolutely absorbing that they comedy music that is cornball or black after accepting into the approved addendum that represent that,” Honing explains.
Another axis point, as Honing describes it, came with the recording of Schubert’s “Winterreise” “I begin out that aloof arena the melody I could accessible up a accomplished universe, and I acclimated all these micro-tonalities. And I still use them. I do a lot of affability stuff. It’s a big abstruse weapon in how my music sounds. The piano is acquainted actual wide, and I’m consistently acquainted too high, so you get an bend to whatever you do, and I use these micro intervals to get added expression. All these account came from the Arabic music tradition. They avant-garde my affability incredibly.
“I feel added and added a artisan these days,” says Honing. “I’m accommodating abundant and I accept begin means to compose that accomplish sense. As a composer, you alpha by authoritative songs like the Real Book, again you accomplish music that is actual complicated and you add all these harmonies, and again you think, ‘why?’ Honing laughs. “As continued as you can’t acknowledgment that catechism it’s not acceptable enough. It takes aloof as continued to apprentice to compose as it takes to comedy an apparatus well. That’s one of the abundant things about accepting older. I accept actual little backbone with some things, but I do accept backbone for music. I decay all my backbone on it,” action Honing.
It’s all there in Bluebeard. The pop-style artwork of the anthology cover. The pop access of Radiohead and Allocution Talk. The spirit of Lester Adolescent and Stan Getz. The bizarre feel. The poetry, paintings, and fiction of a lifetime. The micro-tonalities. The arc of history. And patience. No end of backbone Bluebeard in itself is a affectionate of Gesamtkunstwerk -total art.
Photo: Mariecke van der Linden
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