"I don't like whimpering"

By Robert Rhoden

Pierre van der Linden: "Improvised Music is vitally important to me".

  Pierre van der Linden has a remarkable record of service which can be heard on a great deal of Single's, Lp's and Cd's. Most lovers of Jazz and improvised music will not directly connect Pierre's name to this kind of music. Pierre is more widely known and famous for his drumming with groups as Brainbox and Focus as that he got acknowledgment for being a Jazz drummer. Still he is not an unknown person on the Jazz stages. The ‘Advanced Warning' Cd, ‘Watch Out For The Jazzpolice' is dedicated to him. "In my opinion that was not quite necessarily to do such a thing," Pierre modifies, "but the other musicians which whom I am working on this Cd, argued that I had such a big influence on the music, that I finally agreed."

 Pierre has just finished a concert with Herbert Noord when I talked to him. The concert was at the opening of a painting exhibition where was a big need for a screaming organ and an ingenious drummer. Since a couple of years, Pierre forms together with Herbert Noord, John C. Marshall and Rinus Groeneveld the group ‘Advanced Warning'. Besides ‘Advanced Warning' Pierre can be heard in such divergent groups as the J.C. Helder Band and The Frans Hals Quartet.

 "I don't have outspoken preferences, but my deepest interest is for free improvised music. Musically spoken the most interesting music for me is when the music is moving into a totally unexpected direction, which means that everyone is put on the wrong side. With ‘Advanced Warning' we often start with a simple blues pattern and than as a bolt from the blue it end's up in total anarchy. Nothing for nothing the group is called ‘Advanced Warning' so they can't complain afterwards. The music moves in every possible direction, but I like to feel a swing underneath. Luckily that's never a problem with ‘Advanced Warning'. The main part of a performance consists of total improvisation, only the form is sometimes not so advanced but that has the advantage that you don't turn the audience out your music. When we did a concert for a very big crowd (+ 5.000 people) during the North Sea Jazz Festival, we played a completely improvised set. To do something like that gives an enormous tension, it is really making music on the edge, but the people loved it."

 Although Pierre's name has been established by concerts and LP's with Focus and Brainbox, talking about these groups is not one of Pierre's most favoured subjects. "I don't have any problem with the remembrance of this period, because my name is tied to this period. But it is a passed station. Naturally it was a nice period and I will state that we made good quality music, but at a certain moment the well falls dry. The challenge has gone and you start to play on your experience, because you have to make a living. I have had a struggle with this period but I won. Off course it gives less financial security to play Jazz and improvised music, but I am glad that I made that decision."

 With Rinus Groeneveld and bass player Wilbert de Joode, Pierre made the Cd ‘Dare to be Different'. "Rinus intended to do something different. He had the feeling that he was placed in a certain field and that he had to show another musical side. His statement was: ‘I am a tenor player with more possibilities than playing a few blueslick's'. That Cd is total freedom, just ‘free jazz' (I agree when you say that this is almost an antique expression, but I should not know how to describe this music in another sense). Rinus put stickers with ‘Acid Jazz' on the Cd-box, but I think people who bought the Cd because of this stickers will be very surprised. There are very nice moments of a serene beauty on this Cd, varied with moments of brute force. It did really please me to cooperate in these recordings, it was inspiring and fun to do and the CD might become a collectors item. The recordings I did with Herbert and Rinus, HiFi Apartment, Nothing to be afraid of, Watch Out For The Jazzpolice and our latest "Cut The Crap", do also carry moments of total freedom. They are only sometimes more structured. One of my favourite songs is ‘Je chante Miou Miou' on the HiFi Apartment album. This song was made in a pure improvisional mode in the recording-studio and forms an excellent example of the way I like to make music. ‘Breakable', a beautiful ballad, that you will find on this album too was made in the same way. People who hear that song resist to believe that it is a straight improvisation. Still that is the truth, we recorded it in one take without a theme or even a simple clue, it was just feeling".

 ‘Advanced Warning' does regular tours with guest solists in and outside Holland, with among them the American guitar-player Paul Weeden Sr. "Paul Weeden is a different story. Playing with Paul is fun. The man has a fabulous timing. When you hear him play, you know why Frank Foster asked him to take the place of Freddie Green in the Count Basie Band. And he is for sure a part of the great American Jazz heritage. He has played with so many people and he has such an experience, incredible. When I was watching the Tele and zapping around, I suddenly discovered Paul accompanying Diana Schuur. When he is taking a solo, you have to pay attention. Sometimes you have to kick him on his tail because he tends to play on his routine. But he is hot, he plays so beautiful, that's really a joy. John is the opposite. Among others he played by Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Groover Washington jr., but he still has the drive to put everything upside down. The challenge of playing with a group as ‘Advanced Warning' , by the way this name was an invention of John, you find John in the unexpected. He is tested in his possibilities as an improvisator, where he normally is not asked for. I remember a concert some time ago we did with him. Normally we came with a trio in that club and they were a little bit sceptic about the combination with John. After the concert everyone came to tell us that they were totally surprised. They thought that John was a simple blues guitar-player, but he turned out to be a guy who could also play Flamenco, Free Jazz, atonal music and all the other things you can do with a guitar. Besides that, he can also sing the blues and add a second voice to his guitar playing like George Benson".

 "If I have plans for the future? I hope that I can go one with making interesting music for a long period. Making music is still the thing I like most, it's my life, you know".

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