saxophonist – composer – producer – teacher
“A great player…” – Joe Zawinul
“Well balanced… every note has a musical meaning.” – Walter Becker
“One of the few saxophone players in the world with a sound of their own.” – Peter Erskine
“World-class soloist…” – Jack Bowers, All About Jazz
“De mooiste toon is van Roos.” Ton Ouwehand, Tubantia
With his intuitive, lyrical and well-balanced style of playing Bird Award winner Toon Roos (1964, the Netherlands) is considered to be one of the finest tenor and soprano saxophonists on today’s contemporary jazz scene. Since the start of his career in 1984 Toon has worked with jazz greats such as Ivan Lins, Peter Erskine, Joe Zawinul, Alex Acuna, John Scofield, Toots Thielemans, Vince Mendoza, The Metropole Orchestra and Steely Dan. Toon has developed his own sound by playing different styles of music, from the big band swing tradition to hardbop, from bossa nova to pop, funk and fusion. Toon is also an award-winning composer, conservatory teacher, private coach and producer of his own albums. He has performed as a bandleader, sideman and bandmember with many groups and artists all over Europe, as well as in the United States, South Africa, Mexico, the Caribbean and China. One of the recent highlights in Toon’s musical career was the invitation from Walter Becker personally to open the shows of Steely Dan on their European ‘Left Bank Holiday’ tour in 2009. The Toon Roos Quartet played nine large halls among which the Hammersmith Apollo in London and the Olympia in Paris. Becker commented that ‘Toon’s playing is so well balanced, that every note has a musical meaning… the opening shows were excellent all the way.’
In 1984, at the age of twenty, Toon won the Wessel Ilcken Prize, a Dutch encouragement prize for young jazz talent. Part of the prize was a guest performance with Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers at the Loosdrecht Jazz Festival 1985. In 2001 Toon won the prestigious Bird Award, an international jazz prize of the North Sea Jazz Festival. The jury wrote: ‘Toon Roos is multi-faceted, plays in the most diverse ensembles, and when it comes to command of the sax, he stands out from all the rest. There is an enormous expressiveness in his performance. His instantly recognisable sound on the tenor sax is round and flexible. He disposes of great harmonious insight, fluent melody and robust timing. Although his roots are traditional, Toon Roos is part of the modern generation of jazz musicians who know no stylistic borders, and with that is a worthy exponent of the current state of affairs in jazz music.’ In 2004 Toon won second prize at the International Songwriting Competition in the United States, in the category Jazz for his composition Reach For The Rose. A jury headed by Branford Marsalis selected the song from more than a 1000 applications from 70 countries. Toon also received an ‘honorable mention’ in the category Performance for his playing on his composition Vienna’s Touch, as recorded in duet with harmonica virtuoso Toots Thielemans.
Over the years Toon collaborated with many jazz greats like Joe Zawinul, Peter Erskine, Alex Acuna, John Scofield, Toots Thielemans, Ivan Lins, Steely Dan, Ravi Coltrane, Barry Harris, Christian McBride, Bill Stewart, Kenny Werner, Vince Mendoza, Jimmy Haslip, Jack Macduff, Art Blakey, John Clayton, George Mraz, Philippe Catherine, Hein Van de Geyn, Karel Boehlee, Joost van Schaik, Rob Madna, Enrico Pieranunzi, Pete Christlieb, Willie Tee, Clark Terry, Bob Brookmeyer, Bud Shank, Manu Katché, Aldo Romano and others. Toon plays on more than thirty albums of which six under his own name. He worked with many Dutch and Belgian artists such as the Ivan Paduart Group & Fay Claassen as well as large bands like the Netherlands Concert Jazz Band & Henk Meutgeert and the Metropole Orchestra & Rogier van Otterloo. From 1984 till 2004 Toon was a steady member and one of the main soloists of the Dutch Jazz Orchestra directed by Jerry van Rooijen. They had several recording projects and received critical acclaim in the US after the release of their first album ‘Portrait Of A Silk Thread – The Unknown Works Of Billy Strayhorn’. More than 20.000 copies of this album were sold.
North Sea Bird Session – July 2005
A highlight for Toon was his collaboration in 2005 with keyboard legend Joe Zawinul. Toon was invited by Zawinul to join an all-star session of Bird Award winners at the North Sea Jazz Festival. After their first encounter Zawinul invited Toon to come and play at his club Birdland in Vienna, Austria. The occasion was a benefit concert for the victims of the Katrina hurricane in New Orleans. Among many other players that night they did a session with singer-pianist Willie Tee and bassist Kyle Eastwood.
Currently Toon is principal teacher at the jazz departments of the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague and of the Utrecht School of the Arts – Faculty of Music. From 1992 till 2001 Toon was principal teacher at the jazz department of the Conservatory of Maastricht. Toon gives private lessons, workshops and masterclasses at conservatories and music schools in the Netherlands and abroad.
As a leader:
First Impression | 1984 | Timeless Records | Toon Roos Quartet
Attitudes | 1988 | Timeless Records | Toon Roos Quartet
The Human Feel | 1993 | September Records | Toon Roos Quartet
Free At Last | 2003 | JJ Tracks – Challenge Records | Toon Roos Group
Love Revisited | 2008 | Green Heart Records | Toon Roos Quartet
Angel Dance | 2012 | Challenge Records | Toon Roos Group
As a sideman (selected discography):
Tribute | 1983 | Timeless Records | John Clayton Big Band
On The Scene with the Dutch Jazz Orchestra | 1994 | Timeless Records | Jerry van Rooijen
A Night At The Music Village | 2003 | Jazz ‘n Pulz | Ivan Paduart featuring Toots Thielemans
4 CD box – DJO Plays Billy Strayhorn | 2007 | Challenge Records | Dutch Jazz Orchestra
DJO Plays The Music of Rob Madna | 2008 | Challenge Records | Dutch Jazz Orchestra
LATEST CD/DVD TOON ROOS GROUP
Former Weather Report drum legends Peter Erskine and Alex Acuna both play on Toon’s sixth album Angel Dance, which has been released on Challenge Jazz. The album was praised by both national and international critics as a perfect and wondrous album. The music of Angel Dance can be described as lyrical funky jazz with world music influences like American funk, jungle, African music, Brazilian samba and New Orleans Second line. Groovy, in the moment, open and spacious, the music of Angel Dance is breathing, spontaneous and highly expressive… Dutch jazz masters Karel Boehlee on piano and synthesizers and the renowned Hein van de Geyn on double bass are steady band members with Toon for many years now and know each other well from their international tours with Toots Thielemans. Toon and Karel are musical partners for almost thirty years. In November 2008 Peter Erskine and Alex Acuna joined these musicians on stage and in the studio… the chemistry was powerful. Angel Dance has ten original compositions by Toon, Karel and Peter Erskine. Angel Dance includes a bonus DVD with a documentary by filmmaker John Twigt on Toon’s musical career and the making of Angel Dance. There are three songs from a live concert with Erskine at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam, and there is footage of Toon playing at the North Sea Jazz Festival with Joe Zawinul. Also the DVD includes an extensive interview with Peter Erskine.
At the studio with Karel Boehlee, Hein Van de Geyn and Peter Erskine.
Erskine: “A really, really great player… Toon has resisted going where a lot of other tenor players have gone. He is playing with a sound and stylistic concept that frankly is kind of thrilling to hear… There are things that remind me of Stan Getz but a lot also of Wayne Shorter… and not in an imitative sense but there is something at the core of the way he plays that has a real Wayne thing to it in some of his note choices… And it’s something I don’t hear too many or almost any other tenor players doing right now so that’s why it was a lot of fun working with him.”
Toon Roos Group | Angel Dance is released on Challenge Jazz, and is marketed and distributed by Challenge Records International. Info and for sale on www.challengerecords.com
At the North Sea Jazz Club, Amsterdam 2012 – Photo by Hans Speekenbrink