Toon Roos

Toon Roos (1964), active as a performer now for 25 years, is recognised by the public, the press and musician colleagues as one of the best tenor and soprano saxophonists in Europe, valued for his lyrical, intuitive and balanced way of playing. Toon has developed his own style by playing in all kinds of music styles from the outset. He has played in the widest variety of formations as band leader, band member or guest soloist, and has toured through many countries.

Saxofonist Albert Beltman was Toon's saxophone teacher at the music school in Alphen aan den Rijn. His first performance was at the age of 14 together with Albert in Cultural Centre 'De Bron' in his home town of Alphen aan den Rijn. He had then been playing saxophone for two years. In 1980 Albert added Toon to the sax-group Five and More, which would later become The Dutch Jazz Orchestra.

Toon gained national recognition with a peformance of his quartet at the North Sea Jazz Festival in 1984, followed by an extensive tour through the country. In the same year he received the Wessel Ilcken Prize, an encouragement prize for young talent, and made his debut album “First Impression” for Timeless Records. From the early years he has, alongside his quartet, also always played fusion with groups such as Top Secret and Face To Face. In 1989 was given a grant to study for five months in New York, where he took private lessons with saxophonists George Coleman, Bob Berg and Bill Evans, playing with musicians including Toots Thielemans, pianist Fred Hersch and organist Jack Macduff.

As well as his own groups Toon has performed and recorded with a wide variety of formations, including the Amsterdam Jazz quintet, the Brazilian fusion group Batida, and the formation Peter Ypma plus Eleven including Benjamin Herman and others. He also played in the John Clayton Big Band and The Netherlands Concert Jazz Band led by Henk Meutgeert. Toon has made many recordings as guest soloist with the Metropool Orkest led by conductors Rogier van Otterloo, Jerry van Rooyen, Rob Pronk and Vince Mendoza. The arranged standards and compositions by Toon for the orchestra, which were recorded and have been broadcast in numerous radio programmes.

As well as the Toon Roos Quartet, the Dutch Jazz Orchestra (DJO) has always been a constant in Toon's musical career. Starting in 1983 he has been band member and soloist with the orchestra for twenty years. The DJO was started as a hobby orchestra made up of studio musicians led by Jerry van Rooijen, dedicated to the music of Thad Jones. There were many concerts and radio and television recordings, and highlights have included CDs by the DJO with newly discovered music by Billy Strayhorn released on the Challenge label, received with unanimous enthusiasm by the press in Europe and America. The performance in 1995 with the DJO at the Duke Ellington Conference in Pittsburgh was another highlight for the orchestra, and another significant DJO production was the CD with music by pianist/composer/arranger Rob Madna, titled Update. Toon has performed with many combinations at festivals and on jazz podia in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Bulgaria, the Dutch Antilles, Mexico, the U.S.A., South Africa, and China.

As guest soloist Toon has played with many international greats such as Toots Thielemans, John Scofield, Ravi Coltrane, Barry Harris, Christian MacBride, Bill Stewart, Manu Katché, Kenny Werner, Philippe Catherine, Vince Mendoza, Art Blakey, Jack Macduff, George Mraz, John Clayton, Enrico Pieranunzi, Bob Brookmeyer, Clark Terry, Dr. John, Jimmy Haslip and Danny Gottlieb. A highlight for Toon was the meeting with keyboard legend Joe Zawinul, who invited Toon in July 2005 to play with him at an all-star session of Bird winners during the North Sea Jazz Festival, and inviting him once again to play together at Zawinul's club Birdland in Vienna at a benefit concert for New Orleans.

In 2001 Toon won the prestigious Bird Award, an international jazz prize which was given every year at the North Sea Jazz Festival in The Hague.

With his composition ‘Reach For The Rose’ on the quartet CD “The Human Feel” Toon won the second prize of the 'International Songwriting Competition' in 2004 in the United States, with Branford Marsalis as jury member. In the category “Jazz” his composition was chosen from more than 1000 entries from seventy different countries. His composition “Vienna's Touch”, recorded together with Toots Thielemans and released on a CD of Ivan Paduart, also reached the final and won an honourable mention.

In July 2002 Toon presented his new fusion formation the Toon Roos Group at the North Sea Jazz Festival. As well as keyboard player Karel Boehlee, guitarist Peter Tiehuis also filled an important role as accompanist and soloist. A presentation of the funky jazz CD Free At Last followed in 2003 in the Melkweg in Amsterdam. The concert was part of a series of three fusion concerts with the Zawinul Syndicate and Uri Caine. This was followed by various concerts in The Netherlands and abroad. In 2004 the group gave a succesfull performance during the World Port Jazz Festival in Rotterdam. In 2005 the Toon Roos Group performed at the North Sea Jazz Festival Cape Town in South Africa. In 2005/2006 Toon made a tour of fourteen Dutch theatres with his band for the Jazz Impuls foundation. In 2008 Toon Roos celebrated his 25 year jubilee as performing artist with the presentation of his new CD Love Revisited. The renewed Toon Roos Quartet has an all-star line-up with pianist Karel Boehlee, bassist Hein van de Geyn and drummer Joost van Schaik. Lyricism, sound, groove and interaction are the most important key words for this group.

Groups in which Toon currently performs are, alongside the renewed Toon Roos Quartet, the quartet and sextet of Belgian pianist Ivan Paduart. With the sextet with Fay Claassen and David Linx the CD In Exile Of Dreams was released at the end of 2007 on the Jazz Impuls label. Toon has also made recordings for a funky vocal project with pianist Ivan Paduart and drummer Manu Katché (Sting, Joni Mitchell).

From 1993 to 2002 Toon has taught at the Conservatorium in Maastricht. He has also given numerous masterclasses at institutes such as the Conservatorium if Hilversum (now Amsterdam) and the Conservatorium in Groningen. Since 2001 Toon has been a teacher in the jazz departments of the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague and the Conservatorium in Utrecht.

Docent bij de studies