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Tineke Postma: Keeping Honest in Holland

Tineke Postma: Keeping Honest in Holland
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It's like a mirror. If I, as a person, am in a certain state, you definitely hear that in my music. It forces me to be a real person, be honest looking at myself and the world around me--to be able to express myself in an honest way.
Tineke Postma's bright voice from Holland has been making a mark on the U.S. scene over the last couple years, with its a bright, clear alto sax sound and a penchant for thoughtful, enthralling melodies. Postma started listening to classical music while growing up in Heerenveen in the northern part of The Netherlands, starting on flute before switching to saxophone. As she moved into music, she began exploring jazz little by little, among other forms of music. But her spirit and creativity have been unleashed in jazz, as evidenced by a brief, but noteworthy recording career. She jumped more into America's consciousness last year with the release of The Traveller, with superb U.S. musicians Geri Allen
Geri Allen
Geri Allen
b.1957
piano
, Scott Colley
Scott Colley
Scott Colley
b.1963
bass
and Terri Lyne Carrington
Terri Lyne Carrington
Terri Lyne Carrington
b.1965
drums
. But all her records sound good.

Recently, The Dawn of Life (Challenge Records) was released in Europe. It is scheduled to come out on September 13th in the U.S., and there will be some American performance dates around that time. It features her regular Dutch Quartet of Marc van Roon on piano, Frans van der Hoeven on bass and Martijn Vink on drums. Esperanza Spalding
Esperanza Spalding
Esperanza Spalding
b.1984
bass, acoustic
provides her distinctive jazz vocals on one of the cuts. Postma's recordings show a maturing jazz musician with a clear, yet wistful, sound. She soars dreamily and digs in firmly. There will be a lot to come from this imaginative artist.

"I love the improvisation part. I'm really happy to have the luxury to express myself through jazz because it can go anywhere," she says. "I love the interaction between the musicians on stage. I'm not the kind of musician who only wants to play a solo, show what I can do and be on my little island on stage. I like to have collective improvisation with all the musicians around me—having a dialogue. I think that's really magic. It's so diverse, it can go everywhere."

She avows, "Art is very important to keep people inspired, critical and in touch with spiritual and social parts of life. Jazz can make people grow and develop creative thinking; it touches all those aspects. Jazz is life."

Life jumps right out of the speakers, evident from the first strains of "Cancao de Amor (Suite I Na Floresta do Amazonas)," the opening cut on the new disc. Postma shows her ethereal was of darting around and through a melody. She colors the music with her sweet alto sound, in conjunction with the other musicians. She doesn't just blow over changes. As she says, it's a dialogue, and a blissful one, throughout the recording. "Before the Snow" is pensive and elegant. It's nearly a minute and a half before she steps into the soft cushion the band has laid out, and she sings over it with a deep beauty, a languid and striking statement.

"Leave Me a Place Underground" is music Postma wrote for a poem by Pablo Neruda, The words are brought to life by Spalding, backed by soprano sax this time. This is no pop song tossed in for appeal. It is a twisting, twirling melody where Spalding magically weaves words and wordless cries that are sublime. "Tell It Like It Is" is a Postma ballad—she's crazy heartfelt on ballads—her sound in perfect cohesion with the band to bring about a soft, uplifting mood. Her writing and her airy, but rich, sound have a distinguishing stamp. She wrote most of the new disc and all of the tunes on The Traveller.

Postma says her writing is influenced by everything from classical music—modern composers like Heitor Villa-Lobos, who penned "Cancao de Amor"—to popular music, jazz, "and life itself ... I write in a way that feels personal to me."

"I think this is definitely a step forward," says Postma of her new CD. "I'm getting closer and closer to getting my own voice, in a way. ... I'm very happy I got to record with my Dutch quartet because we've been playing since 2006, traveling a lot."

Postma was in New York City early this year, hanging out with friends like Greg Osby
Greg Osby
Greg Osby
b.1960
saxophone
and Donny McCaslin
Donny McCaslin
Donny McCaslin
b.1966
saxophone
and having fun. She returned to Holland for a tour in that region and parts of Europe. In addition to touring with her compatriots, she wants to tour with American colleagues and play more U.S. dates.

Postma says there are no musicians in her family, but they supported her taking the path into music. "My father listened to a lot of jazz. My mother was singing in a choir. So the love of music was there. It definitely helped me," she says. "But he also listened to pop music like Phil Collins, Dire Straits or Tina Turner. He had a very diverse CD collection. I basically listened most of the time to jazz when I was a little girl. Listening to pop music actually came far later."

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