The Netherlands via Banff

Køgging is a unique vocal jazz band

Follow your dreams. That’s the lesson we can all learn from Netherlands’ jazz vocalist Norbert Køgging. In 2008 he imagined what it would be like to have a band that would perform his compositions and now three years later his band is on a cross-Canada CD release tour.

Køgging laughs as he recalls how the quartet — himself Folkert Oosterbeek (piano) Tobias Nijboer (double bass) and Felix Schlarmann (drums) — came together. It started because Køgging was curious. “You reach a point at least I did where you want to write your own things and just look at what happens” he says.

It all started with Oosterbeek. “We did some stuff together” Køgging recalls “and Folkert said ‘Well maybe it’s an idea to start something like a band.’ It was not really that obvious that it would be what it is right now but we started playing with several guys and I started writing for it and we had a song. There was a competition and it went well and we thought ‘Let’s move on.’ Then it was a drummer in a drummer out — you know how it is. This is how it ended up. I think in this formation we’ve played since the summer of 2010.”

A lot has changed in the last few years. For one the quartet bonded and in Køgging’s opinion that makes a huge difference. “We really became good friends” he says. “We really enjoy playing together and being out there together. That’s a really important part of it that I sometimes miss in groups especially when you play with professional people sometimes it really is work and it looks like work. That’s something I didn’t want and I think that’s something we have really accomplished together.”

The new CD Daydreaming recorded and released in 2011 is their first album. For a group of musicians involved in many side projects it’s no small achievement. Køgging knew that if they stayed home in Amsterdam they’d be too close to those projects and the recording would not have the focus it needed. The solution: move everybody to The Banff Centre and record there.

Banff was a natural choice for Køgging who’d spent two months studying there while working on his master’s. “The Banff Centre itself is incredible” Køgging says. “It is the complete environment the mountains and everything that’s great and the facilities are great as well. You really have the time as an artist to really focus on what you have to do and nothing bothers you.”

It was the perfect answer for the hectic schedules of the quartet musicians. “I knew that it [Banff Centre] would be inspiring and that it really would work for the group and it did.”

So with a new CD and a release tour in progress you’d think that Køgging and the quartet would be planning their next project. Køgging however is much more cautious about the future. “I’m still writing and making stuff” he says. “It’s not like I’m saying in January 2013 we’re going to record a new album I don’t know actually. What I learned from this project is that I did what I wanted to do make an album. I said to myself then we need to record and then I better start writing a lot. It worked but not always and sometimes some things are not very good for the heart. I really want to have time to really focus on balancing.”