joris teepe banner hp 1100x260

2014-03 The Highway Is My Home

20140301 01

Joris Teepe is the first jazz musician from the Netherlands who made it in New York.
This exceptional bass player played with legends such as Benny Golson, Sonny Fortune and Rashied Ali and he recorded ten albums as a leader.

What inspired you to pick up the bass?
“I didn’t find the bass but the bass found me. When I was in high school the band needed a bass player and they asked me. We played blues and ska music. Most bass players start playing the guitar and then switch to bass but I started playing bass from scratch. I began listening to jazz when I was 18 years old and taped records on cassette tapes because I did not have the money to buy LPs. The first record was Kind of Blue, the Miles Davis classic. I loved the heavy swing and started to hear the bass lines. The bass really fits me because when I listen to music I hear the bass lines first.”

How would you describe your style of playing?
“Adventurous, creative and clear. It can be playful too. “Playing the bass is my way to communicate to people, I like to play differently all the time, keep it exciting, challenging. Rashied Ali told a whole story while he played the drums. He taught me that when you play music it is important to tell a convincing story with your instrument.”

20140301 03You have played with Benny Golson, how was it to play with such a legend?
“Back to school. You learn so much. There is a nice anecdote among musicians on Benny Golson where he asks: Shall we play standards or Benny Golson compositions tonight?
Let’s do standards for a change. You do that and you end up playing his pieces all night because they are all standards.”

Joris Teepe lived in New York for over 20 years but recently moved back to Amsterdam. Now he travels back and forth between Amsterdam and New York, when he is not touring.

Why did you move to New York?
“When I heard people from New York perform I really liked them, they were on such a high level. I went there to learn. When I was there people told me: you need at least 6-7 years to learn how to be a professional musician in New York. So I stayed. I wanted to be part of that scene. Jazz is American music and there is a difference between an American playing American music or a European playing American music. So I became an American. They have a deep respect for tradition in America. Everything comes from there. When you play free jazz you know that it all originated from Louis Armstrong and even before that. On top of that being in New York is just like being at North Sea Jazz Festival (the largest jazz festival in the world), but then every day, 365 days a year.”

Why did you move back to The Netherlands?
My wife got home sick and I love her so I followed her. We have a little 3½-year-old son that can grow up here. Nowadays I spend my time in Amsterdam and New York. Spending time in New York is more work and music orientated. Amsterdam feels more cozy, quiet and enjoying the good things in life such as my family.”

How do you feel about getting older?
“I have no problems with it. I have experienced a lot of things and lived a full life. It is valuable to be able to look back on that with pride. And I hope to have a lot more time to have new experiences.”

What have you learned in life so far?
“That you can make something good out of every situation you get into. I am a very positive person.”