UK-bound Dutch wizards have Toto's backing
Amsterdam-based acid jazz wizards Tristan, who return to the UK in October, come enthusiastically recommended by a celebrity fan.
Steve Lukather, guitarist with multi-million selling Californian rock giants Toto, has been following the band for some time and describes them as “bringing the best of the 1970s into the current decade”.
“Our drummer, Sebastiaan Cornelissen was a big Toto fan when he was young,” says Tristan’s keyboards player Coen Molenaar ahead of more dates for the Going Dutch project which has been bringing top musicians from the Netherlands to the UK and Ireland over the past eighteen months.
“Sebastiaan got in contact with their drummer, Jeff Porcaro, who thought Sebastiaan was very talented and was going to give him some lessons, but unfortunately Jeff died before this could happen. This was a big blow but since then, Sebastiaan has sent Steve Lukather all the music he has recorded and when Steve heard Tristan he was so enthusiastic. He wrote Sebastiaan a long e-mail, saying how much he liked what we’re doing. It was a major boost, as you can imagine.”
Tristan formed in 2003, when Molenaar, who previously worked with Jan Akkerman, the guitarist with Dutch prog rock band Focus, met Cornelissen and bassist, Frans Vollink on a recording session.
“We were actually there to play on an album with a guitarist from Luxembourg and it instantly felt as if we had been playing together for years,” says Molenaar. “To begin with we would tour as a trio with guests, including the great American trumpeter Randy Brecker, who has been another great supporter of ours. But we really needed a singer and it took until 2014 to find the right one. When we met Evelyn Kallansee, everything fell into place and that same year we released our first album, Full Power.”
Full Power made an immediate impression. Jazz FM awarded it Album of the Week status and it went straight to the top of the UK Soul charts, going on to win the band a world-wide following. Its successor, 2nd Phase, released in 2015, performed similarly, with its catchy opening track, Supersize My Sunshine becoming a turntable and dancefloor hit.
The band’s music draws on influences, including vintage acid jazz, the horns-led soul of Tower of Power and the jazz-funk of Incognito, and having recorded with guests ranging from Randy Brecker to Atlanta-based soul singer Heston and Dutch singer-guitarist Kasper, they recorded their latest album, The Spice of Five, with just the core group.
The Spice of Five, like its predecessors, has sold well and helped to keep the Tristan sound on the airwaves through steady radio play. As Molenaar points out, however, they are essentially a live act and they produce the same high energy levels whether they are playing in the studio or onstage.
“When we record, the rhythm section are always in the studio together and we tend to record the rhythm tracks in one take, to keep the music vibrant and direct,” he says. “In live performance we go for the same effect. Our philosophy is, just play. No fooling around, give all your energy and inspire the audience, leave them feeling charged with positive energy and – hopefully - longing for more!”
Wed 2: Hampstead Jazz Club, London
Thu 3: Zeffirellis, Ambleside
Fri 4: The Brook, Southampton
Sat 5: The Garage, Swansea
Sun 6: Colchester Arts Centre