of the finest jazz-rock guitarists in Europe today, Holland-based
Marnix Busstra has a number of albums out under his name and
his 2017 CD, Old School Band is his best yet. Holland
of course was a central country in the 1970s instrumental, jazz-fusion
explosion and true to form, Jan Akkerman might be considered one key
influence on the guitar sound Marnix brings forth on his 2017 CD,
Old School Band. On the 47 minute, ten track CD there are mixes
of progressive instrumental rock, old school jazz and
jazz-fusion that are enhanced by number of sure-fire guitar moods
and grooves. The band Marnix recorded Old School Band with
includes Eric Van de Bovenkamp (organ), Norbert Sollewijn
Gelpke (bass and album producer) and Mark Stoop (drums).
Liner notes were actually written by Marnixs early music instructor,
Martijn Breebaart, who graded Marnix in music school back in
the late 1970s. In deference to the album title, Old School Band
may be just an affectionate name for a band and an album that,
while steeped in the classic, instrumental jazz-rock sound, tastefully
carries the tradition well into the 21st century. Comparing Old School
Band with The Marnix Busstra band, the guitarist explains, "Firm,
Fragile, Fun is the last album of my other band, The Marnix Busstra
Band. That band is very different from the Old School Band, although
we play my compositions in both bands. I think you can call the Marnix
Busstra Band my acoustic band, with upright bass and acoustic
piano, and the Old School Band my electric band, with
bass guitar and organ. And the Old School Band is definitely more
funk, the Marnix Busstra Band more jazz. Through
the years I made 14 records with my different bands."
Perhaps the finest album yet from Dutch guitarist Marnix Busstra,
Old School Band is never old sounding and, in fact, the album
revitalizes the entire European jazz-rock fusion sound. www.marnixbusstra.nl
mwe3.com presents an interview with
Tell us about Old School Band and about the band on the album.
I remember you speaking earlier about looking forward to your Old
School Band recording project you planned out with Norbert Sollewijn
Gelpke. Norberts bass sound is great. What did you two guys
set out to achieve on the Old School Band album and tell us
who else is in the band?
Marnix Busstra: I know Norbert virtually my whole life. We
went together to kindergarten, primary school, high school, where
we played in the school band and
the Conservatory. He is definitely like a brother to me. He is an
amazing bass player and also a fantastic producer and technician.
He produced and mixed all my latest albums. After our school band
we played in several other bands together, and our band Second Vision.
With that band we recorded three albums, and on the last one with
vibist Mike Mainieri from Steps Ahead as a guest soloist. Thats
how I met Mike. After that we formed the band Mike Mainieri/Marnix
Busstra Quartet, without Norbert, because we wanted to use an upright
Second Vision stopped in 2003, so we didnt play together for
a decade. A few years ago we sat down and we came up with the idea
of the Old School Band. Key for us was that it should be as funky
as possible! So we asked the most funky drummer, Mark Stoop and organist
Eric van de Bovenkamp of The Netherlands. And I do think they did
a helluva on this first album.
mwe3: When you mean Old School I thought you were
talking about some of the great legends of 1970s European instrumental
fusion but then I read the liner notes and I found it was sort of
referring to your old music school teacher Martijn Breebaart who also
wrote the album's liner notes. I like it when he wrote that your music
was even ahead of his. Was that 40 years ago? Is this all possible
because Holland is such a small country where everyone knows each
Busstra: (Ha ha) Holland is small indeed, but with 17 million
people its not that we all know each other, of course. But indeed,
our high school music teacher Martijn Breebaart played a crucial role
in my / our development as a musician, and as a person too. I was
a very shy boy at that time, insecure about myself and about my music
skills. I was honestly and totally surprised that he asked me for
his school band. That was in 1981, almost 40 years ago indeed.
We started playing his compositions, typical 80s fusion, with
a lot of unisono-licks and over-constructed grooves. But for us it
was very instructive and inspiring, we learned a lot! One day he said
to me: why dont you try to compose a song for the band?
I just thought: why did he ask me!, I cant write music
But looking back, I think he was a good teacher indeed and saw my
potential, way before I was aware of it myself.
mwe3: How would you compare Old School Band with you
other album Firm Fragile Fun? Is Old School Band jazzier
than your earlier works? So, how would you compare the two albums
and two lineups? Have you done concerts in Holland with both bands
and how many albums have you made as a solo artist and other albums.
Marnix Busstra: Firm, Fragile, Fun is the last album
of my other band, The Marnix Busstra Band. That band is very different
from the Old School Band, although we play my compositions in both
bands. I think you can call the Marnix Busstra Band my acoustic
band, with upright bass and acoustic piano, and the Old School
Band my electric band, with bass guitar and organ. And
the Old School Band is definitely more funk, the Marnix
Busstra Band more jazz. Through the years I made 14 records
with my different bands.
When I choose musicians for my bands, key for me is always that they
dare to take risks in the music. My compositions are not very complicated,
but are playing pieces, meant to be starting points to
go on an adventure together, live and in the studio. And I feel lucky
to play with these great musicians, who have the right mindset to
I did a lot of concerts with my different bands, mainly in The Netherlands,
but also abroad in Europe, Asia... Id definitely love to come
to the USA to do concerts there, because Im pretty sure there
is a potential audience for our music there too.
Whats new in Holland 2017? It still seems like Holland is still
one of the more underrated countries in Europe. For example you dont
nearly hear as much news or current events from Holland as you do
from say, Germany or France or even Sweden. Is that because Dutch
musicians are more reserved or reverent about their music and not
so much looking to exploit their art? It always seemed more pure or
Marnix Busstra: I think youre right... Holland is kind
of underrated, there are a lot of very good musicians here. Its
a small country, but so is Sweden or Norway, so that cannot be the
reason. What might be a reason is that there is not a specific style
or sound which is typically Dutch, and that makes it harder
to sell it abroad. But there are some successful Dutch musicians playing
around the world, like Yuri Honing, Ben van Gelder and Michiel Borstlap.
mwe3: The album artwork for the Old School Band CD is
fascinating. It looks like Broadway and theres the Flatiron
building there or is it in Holland? I see the For Rent sign outside
but whats the back over art with the Steel Pier sign? The hi-res
images are jaw-dropping.
Marnix Busstra: Yeah, the album art is fantastic, I agree!
It was made by photographer and designer Rob Becker. He has made almost
all my artwork through the years. His specialty is to combine all
kind of different things and create a kind of new reality with it.
To be honest, I dont know all the buildings he used for it!
Ill ask him, if you want to know it exactly
mwe3: Can you tell us where you recorded the Old School
Band album and whats the studio like? I see Brooklyn Studio,
boy, theres a lot of New York connections between New York City
and Holland. Isnt there a city in Holland called Brooklyn? Maybe
thats why your music has such a strong New York groove to it.
Yet, there is another NYC connection the album was mastered at Sterling
Sound by Will Quinell.
Marnix Busstra: There is indeed a lot of connection between
New York and Holland, for example the small city of Breukelen, the
origin of Brooklyn. The recording studio, Brooklyn Studio, is in Breukelen.
Actually it was, a few months ago it closed his doors.
The mixing of the album was done by bass player Norbert Sollewijn
Gelpke in his backyard, in his own Nopol studio. Sometimes he also
does the mastering himself, but in this case he realized the music
needed an approach he cannot produce with his equipment. And there
is in Holland not a mastering studio that works at the same level
as Sterling Sound and of course nowadays the distance is not a problem
anymore. I think it worked out really well, the album sounds fantastic.
mwe3: You were talking last time about how Facebook and the
internet in general hasnt been completely fair to the artists.
True to form, Facebook has been implicated in the last US election.
Seems like the internet is still kind of the wild west!
Busstra: There you hit me on my weak spot. Social media and myself
are not really good friends. Maybe Im too overly sensitive,
but I just cant deal with all the nonsense you find online.
And the amount of nonsense is bigger than. So, I do work with Facebook
but on a very minimum level.
mwe3: Any new guitar news? Did you use your famous Howard Roberts
on the Old School Band sessions? But I didnt hear any
of your electric sitar work this time on Old School Band. Amps
were the same for the Old School Band album too? Would you
consider going back to the sitar sound or other ethnic tones or sounds
in the future?
Marnix Busstra: Indeed, on this album I only used my Howard
Roberts guitar and my two Bogner Duende amps. In the Brooklyn Studio
there were a bunch of very nice classic amps. I tried them all, but
realized again I just love my own sound with the Bogners.
In the funky environment of the Old School Band repertoire, my electric
sitar just doesnt work, the sound is too slow. And
the sound of my bouzouki has got nothing to do with funk
I still use them for other projects. At the moment Im busy writing
for a duo project, guitar and piano, Ill use these instruments
for sure for that.
mwe3: One of the coolest cuts is the Ten Euro Skunk
track which has funky fusion meets Focus! How did you come up with
the title? You use Euros and Dutch money too in Holland right? Do
you come up with your own titles too?
Marnix Busstra: Haha, to be honest, I think its a pretty
Dutch title...skunk is a common name here for a specific
type of cannabis. As you know, in Amsterdam you can buy it in coffee
shops. So you can buy ten euro skunk
we use euros
here, to have a good time. And indeed, all the titles are mine
No Solution has a kind of Focus feel to it. I was also
thinking Pekka Pohjola slightly with the cool bass solo by Norbert.
Is that considered a kind of romantic European / Dutch type chord
progression? How did you sequence the chords? Then theres a
kind of build up progression in the bridge.
Marnix Busstra: Thats always hard to say about your own
compositions. I think you can compare it with a poem, analyzed by
a teacher in high school or university... they see things in a poem
that the poet never thought of when he wrote it.
So, for me its just the right chords with the melody. I never
thought of it being typical European or Dutch. But I understand when
you say there is a classical vibe in those chords, especially
the second and fourth chord of the first part, it immediately creates
a special mood.
mwe3: Im amazed at the amount of talent out there these
days but its been harder to unite behind an invincible music
business as its all so wild west, ala facebook, etc
guess life in 2017 is a two-sided coin. You say there will be more
Old School Band albums coming at some point so thats encouraging
news. Any other plans up coming for the year? As long as you write
music this good there will always be reasons to record.
Marnix Busstra: Thanks for the compliment about my writing...
And I totally agree, its really hard to accomplish things nowadays
in the music business, for almost everybody. The good thing about
it is that it must be very clear for yourself why you make
music. If you do it to get famous or for just being successful, then
you better stop and I know a lot of very good musicians who are very
bitter and dont make records anymore. But if you make music,
purely for the sake of music itself, then there is always a reason
to go on and make as beautiful music as possible.
I said, Im busy writing now for a duo project, piano and guitar
that is totally different from the Old School Band, but very inspiring
to compose for. And there will be a second album of the Old School
Band for sure, but well take our time for that. The quality
of it must be at least equal to this first album, so, thats
Marnix Busstra offers his Track by Track notes
for Old School Band
Medium Rare This song actually sounds
like a tune for a tv-program or something like that. The drum/guitar
battle makes it less commercial.
Ten Euro Skunk A typical guitar song, cool and firm
at the same time.
No Solution An introverted ballad with some nice, chic
chord-progressions. I love the drum arrangement, very tasteful.
Of The In Crowd A very upbeat piece, I always get a smile
on my face when we play it.
Little White Lie A very funky, and a little old-fashioned
with the unisono licks. But always fun to play, and the Phaser on
the guitar sound works very well for the melody.
Too Hot Tub A lazy, sultry song. Indeed expressing the
feeling when you stayed in the hot tub for too long.
A Good Day A very basic composition, but not easy to
play. You have to play every note very precise to make it work.
New Canal Of The Emperors To explain the title, this
is the name of the street in Amsterdam I used to live in (Nieuwe Keizersgracht).
Its a kind of constructed composition, with the weird chords
and the non-melodic melody. But I love the specific mood it creates.
F*cking Speedbumps The most fusion-like
piece, high-energy and virtuoso. But still very funky and a joy to