Simin Tander: Softly, As In A Morning Dew
Tander also cites singer Al Jarreau as an influence-perhaps, subconsciously, her most formative influence as regards improvisation: "My mother listened to him a lot so I always heard him. I'd just be singing along in the car to him and especially his way of improvising without thinking about it." Instrumentalists too, have shaped Tander's ideas about improvisation, in particular, she says, saxophonist Wayne Shorter's quartet of the last decade. "I've seen that band a lot of times," says Tander. "It's one of my favorites. Björk was also an influence, but she's very particular and I cannot listen to her all the time. She can be dark, but she's inspired me a lot."
Though busy promoting Wagma with concerts at home and abroad, Tander also finds the time to collaborate with other musicians and in a surprisingly wide range of projects, including composing for television and film. One of Tander's most original projects is the all-female experimental group, PLoTS, featuring Tessa Zoutendijk on violin/loop station, soprano/alto saxophonist Esmee Olthuis and pianist Laia Genc. Its debut recording Songs from the Edge (JazzHausMusik, 2012) is an impossible to categorize, yet emotionally charged collection of song-form/improvisation, written by composer/conductor Hazel Leach.
Another notable collaboration was with Dutch trumpeter Eric Vloeimans: "Unfortunately it's not an active trio anymore," says Tander. "It wasn't really a conceptual idea that we wanted to form a trio; pianist Florian Weber and Eric had a gig and they needed a third musician to join and they thought of me. We played a very beautiful concert in a church and it was really kind of magical. We played some of Eric's songs and some of mine and the trio sounded really complete. After that we played some really nice concerts and there was talk of making a CD. If it happens it happens, but everyone is busy and it was just at a time when I was focusing on my CD. When there's space again we will do something as a trio but for the moment there are no concrete plans."
Then there's Tander's ongoing collaboration with Israeli singer/guitarist David Goleck. "It's very intimate and very different," says Tander. "It was immediately clear that David spoke to another side of me that I don't express in my quartet." The duo had only an hour to rehearse before their first concert together, but the spark between them convinced them to go into the studio, resulting in the haunting Folksongs From Another Land (Kululush Records, 2011). "It's a different sound," explains Tander. The lyrics are in Hebrew. It's a different direction for me and I like it."
Tander returned to her native Cologne, Germany in 2011, despite having built a name for herself in Holland: "Holland was going very well for me," admits Tander, "but Germany is my home country and I wanted to try it there." On returning home, Tander didn't waste any time before she began exploring new musical directions: "I play in an exciting new trio in Cologne called a si & twice no, with drummer Christian Thome, who also uses his laptop, and cellist Jorg Brinkmann. It's a lot about groove. It's not in my name because I want to keep my focus on the quartet. I'm also working on new repertoire for my quartet though I don't know when we'll record."
Recently, Tander stretched herself even more, working with Amsterdam-based David Dramm and the unconventional big band, the Ensemble Labyrint, singing on Dramm's arrangements of The Velvet Underground & Nico (Verve, 1967). Clearly, Tander is open to any musical possibilities that excite her imagination: "I'm open to everything as long as I can be myself," says Tander, "but if I can't be myself I'd rather not do it." There are plans to record a CD with her Cologne trio and ambitions to compose further for TV and film. Tander's priority, however, remains her quartet. "I'll play everywhere I can with the quartet," Tander says enthusiastically.
The traveling back and forth between different towns, countries and continents to play concerts can be a grueling old slog, but for Tander there's nothing else she would rather be doing than singing to audiences all over the world: "I can't imagine just staying at home and working in the garden, maybe for a short while, but then I have to sing again," she affirms. "There is not really another option for me."
Hazel Leach/PLoTS, Songs From The Edge (JazzHausMusik, 2012)
Simin Tander, Wagma (Neuklang Records, 2011)
Simin Tander/David Golek, Folk Tales From Another Land (Kululush Records, 2011)
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Pages 2, 3: Robert Fuile
Page 4: John Kelman