Eric Vloeimans', musician, composer, and teacher, appearance is colorful. The image of him and his trumpet case make up one of a traveler. When he enters a room or club, give him a few minutes to check out the environment and absorb the vibes he's stepped into. Eric will light up as soon as he recognizes old friends and beloved colleagues. He greets them with uplifting enthusiasm and radiant energy. And there's always a quick remark about the way he dresses. His coat or red shoes or neon blue trousers. He dresses the way he is, the way he plays, Colorfully.
Gatecrash was a 2001 project featuring an ensemble of fine Jazz musicians from Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark: Harmen Fraanje on piano, Teun Verbruggen on drums, Mats Eilersen on double bass, Anton Goudsmit on guitar and, of course, Eric Vloeimans on trumpet. Anton and Eric go way way back and it showed in their almost telepathic precision and seemingly secret handshakes and laughter. Harmen introduced himself one day to Eric saying he'd like to work with him. The chemistry between Harmen and Eric was revealed when they played two of Harmen's compositions. The rich and harmonious settings of the chords gave Eric all the freedom he needed to participate in his own pace and time. A new experience, the ideal journey for someone like Eric Vloeimans. Teun and Mats carried the often swift changes in the creative alliances and dialogues going on and took turns in lead and support. The energy of this Gatecrash project floated in the individual contribution and spun together on common grounds.
"Funny Walk," written by Eric and dedicated to the versatile English actor-comedian John Cleese, warmed up both musicians and audience in the first set. The location was Jazzclub Carnaval du Jazz in the south of the Netherlands. It was a treat to see the musicians find their own rhythm and movement, even physically. Like dancers behind the curtains preparing for stage, only this time for all to witness. "Funny Walk" is a very clever composition, it creates opportunity to seek the levels of exploration and beholds restraint as a promise. A promise Eric Vloeimans and his friends didn't forsake to live up to as they captured both the evening and the audience. A Thelonious Monk composition was second, featuring Anton on guitar. Eric's showed his technical skills, controls and the energy he masters, as he kept the tension in long single notes and his whole body swaying to the music. Whenever one of the others took a lead, he closed his eyes, smiled and listened, to step in at just a notion of a drumbeat, or the gentle persuasion of the piano, the lure of the bass sounding deep and steady.
Bitches and Fairy Tales is one of Eric's CDs. While on a tour, Eric read the book Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie and it inspired him to write "Midnight Child", the second track on Bitches and Fairy Tales. The Gatecrash version featured both Anton and Eric in an esoteric dialogue, Anton singing along the melodic phrases that guided his fingers on the guitar. The spiritual and at the same time almost tangible substance presented here, had to awaken one's senses to understand the brilliance of Eric's talents as a composer and trumpeter. A perfect balance of technical skill and sheer emotion as in easy to access without simplifying the composition. "Midnight Child" exhaled purity, honesty and elevated the ordinary but kept in touch with exactly those simple things we are familiar with in life. To elevate with all due respect to what is left behind, no contempt, no judgment, no criticism. It's an enlightening experience transcending into Ericís world and his Language of Jazz.
He said: "Somehow I'd like for people to take my music in and enjoy it, perhaps feel there's a message underneath, but one I can't define for them, for it's the eye of the beholder always. I like to play close to what I feel instinctively and concentrate on what is going on during a performance. I'm also aware of what's going on outside of me, I hear it when my lines fail to harmonize with a drumbeat for even a second or when I need more power from the bass, even though the audience may not be so aware. We always talk about it, right after a gig. What's so special about projects like these, is the chemistry of the group, anything can happen. Sure, we're all trained and experienced Jazz musicians, we read charts and know what we're doing. Still, we take ourselves and each other to new levels and learn from it, enjoy it and have lots of fun on stage. But a main goal is indeed I'd like to leave an impression, something people can take home with them, it's all open to interpretation though, as long as it's something good, you know. A ray of hope? Yes, definitely something positive. Thank you."
You can find pictures of Eric Vloeimans at: www.PicturesTrail.com/reginav on the Internet.
by Gina Vodegel
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Copyright Jazz Now, February 2002 issue, all rights reserved