Breath of Jazz from Schrama Palpable

Eugene Leenders, 18 nov 2019

New Orchestra’s regal performance in the Speeldoos theater

Baarn. The Royal Jazz Evening, Saturday night, in a sold-out Speeldoos. Without the great man behind the scenes, Cees Schrama.

He passed away in Baarn age 82 on May 22. His last wish was to ensure this concert series would continue. His companion, Hans van der Heide, made this wish come true with a very memorable tenth edition.

Henk Meutgeert and Peter Beets’s New Jazz Orchestra played phenomenally. This 18-piece big band puts experimentation and improvisation at forefront, along with a healthy dose swing. The namesakes Peter Beets and Henk Meutgeert have been working for years to give a platform to the new generation of young jazz musicians.


Jazz is meant to be full of improvisation. For every performance, the band looks at who can play and forms a lineup. At the o’clock in the afternoon they rehearse, and in the evening it’s straight on to performing. This time with special guest Mirjam van Dam. The singer is a regular guest at the jazz evenings. Her love for beautiful swinging jazz is immediately apparent when she starts to sing.

Baarn was a party. It seemed as if everyone wanted to do their best to honor Cees Schrama, who many knew personally. Schrama hosted the Sesjun radio broadcasts for many years. His jazz spirit was palpable the whole evening. The family and friends of Schrama were seated in the front row.

The tension ebbed away for Hans van der Heide during the concert, and he sat backstage enjoying the performances. With a short introduction, he spoke about his motivation to bring jazz music to the youth.

Van der Heide: “My seven grandchildren go to metal parties, the kind I really don’t go to. They’ve been coming to my jazz concerts for years. I tell them not to feel obliged to come, yet the still do. But they said: ‘Grandpa, we love to come, because the music is real.’ There is no greater compliment.” At the end of the concert his grandchildren came to the stage to give small gifts to the musicians.


The joy and fun was contagious during the performances, which were bookended by entertaining anecdotes from Henk and Peter. There was a lot of room for solos from the young musicians, who hail from not only The Netherlands but also Spain, Brazil and New Zealand.

The is jazz as jazz is meant to be: joyful, energetic and swinging. Because of the chemistry created by the decades-long collaboration of Peter Beets and Henk Meutgeert, the band, no matter what the formation, stands solidly. Everything came by: Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and other greats from the Swing Era. But also work based on Chopin and Wagner. The Royal Jazz Evening is of such value to the Speeldoos, that it barely needs to be advertised. The room and the balcony were full. On to the eleventh edition.

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