Tom, Inge, Marijn, Sietse, Daniele, Tico
Tom Braxton - Clubtour The Netherlands, April 2010

On the last day of his first clubtour in The Netherlands, organized by SmoothJazz Europe, we spoke with Tom Braxton. On our way to the last gig in Groningen, after visiting a very old castle in Germany, we talked about performing with Dutch musicians, being a tourist in The Netherlands and typical Dutch food like "boerenkool" and "gehaktbal"!

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SJEU: Tom, you have been in the Netherlands now for a couple of days, doing this clubtour. What is your impression about this tour so far?
Tom: It has been fantastic! The enthusiasm for the music has been wonderful, everyone has been very friendly. And you find out that there are some people that really like this kind of music in the Netherlands!
SJEU: We spoke with you all these years to get you over to the Netherlands, and finally we found some places to perform and some Dutch musicians to play with. How did you prepare, because you never met them before?
Tom: Fortunately I have been doing some engagements like this in the States when you can't fly with your own band because travelling is expensive. So I then send charts and mp3's of the music ahead. And that worked out great, I did go there by myself, did the rehearsals and the performance. So when we set up these gigs for The Netherlands, I had to come by myself and you guys told me about some great musicians here in The Netherlands and were correct! I uploaded the music and when I got here, the guys had their music, they had listened to it and we rehearsed on Monday and they were ready to go!
SJEU: We saw some performances this week and it really felt like some chemistry. Do you think you had to play different, with other styles or with a different interpretation of your music?
Tom: Yes I think so. With the audiences here, they come late at night and they don't want it too laid back. So we did more like a high energy show most of the night and did more of the uptempo parts of our repertoire. So it made a fun night but when it was over it had become a tiring night! But it's been a lot of fun. The other thing is when you play with the people standing in front of you instead of sitting and a lot of them want to dance, you plan to play things which have certain kind of rhythms so they can enjoy that.
SJEU: One more thing about the music, you said you sent the guys the music but that is the cd studio version, not the live version. How do you deal with that?
Tom: That's a great point. But I think it's good to start with the studio version because they then can hear the final product with all the parts you want to be played in there. But things change a little bit when you play it live. So they know the basics of the song but we work on special live intros or endings. But the cd versions give them the concept of the songs. Live versions are most of the time played a bit faster unless you play with a track.
SJEU: Talking about these tracks, it is not so common in The Netherlands or even Europe to do this, but it is common in the US. What's your experience this last week to use tracks with the Dutch musicians and the adience?
Tom: The key to it is the drummer. He has to play along with them. For those people who don't know about tracks, these are auxiliary parts with percussion, loops or different instruments which you don't have live. If the drummer has great timing, like we have had sofar, I think it works out great! It fills the song in nicely, and it doesn't take away the focus from the live player. And it is also a delegate balance because you want the tracks to support the music but not take away from what your live players are doing.

SJEU: So much for musical techniques etc. What do you think of just being here in The Netherlands, what did you do besides the gigs?
Tom: Well, it has been fantastic! The people have been great, they made me eat a lot of food. I probably gained some weight while I've been here! And the countryside is wonderful. I have never been to The Netherlands, so I had a chance to take lots of pictures which I can't wait to get them on the website. And it is a great first experience to me to come here, to see it with my own eyes after reading about it, and to enjoy it. I had a great time playing here and being a tourist as well!
SJEU: Tell us what you had for dinner the first day!
Tom: Salads, great soups! And what was the dish with the meatball?
SJEU: Boerenkool with "gehaktbal".
Tom: I am not being able to say that! But I also had french fries and great coffee, everybody loves to drink coffee over here. It has great rich taste, I have been telling you, I am enjoying it!
SJEU: It sound like "Cooking with Tom Braxton"!
Tom: Yes, this is the cooking segment of the SmoothJazz Europe blog here! But the people are so nice here so I can't wait to come back.

SJEU: We would like you to come back. Because we experienced this week that it went so well to combine this music and all the things we want to achieve with SmoothJazz Europe. To connect the word smooth jazz with the music, your music!
Tom: I think it is important that jazz and smooth jazz are words that put different ideas in different people's minds. So if we can let them know that "Hey, you think the music is this kind of way but then you come and see it…", so a lot of people left with a different impression of what smooth jazz is.
SJEU: What we always want to know, and you can help us because you played now in some places in The Netherlands, are there some suggestions to promote smooth jazz more?
Tom: Well it would be great if there is a way to get some radio support. There may not be not a fulltime station but if there were some jazzshows that did this kind of music, after hours or on the weekends, that's a great way to expose. Also having concerts, shows where you bring in more of this kind of music, people would really take to it because of the energy level. That is one thing people really respond to, is the energy. They gave it to us and we gave it back. So then they want to have this music more and more in Europe.
SJEU: We are already thinking of planning another tour so we can't wait to have you come back!
Tom: Haha!
SJEU: We end always to hand over the SmoothJazz Europe T-shirt but you already got one! But thank you very much for this interview and having you with us this week!
Tom: One more thing to add…you all are fantastic tour guides! I have seen great parts of the countryside and the first place I stayed with the inlaws of the drummer Sietse, they also were very great tour guides! I did a lot in a week, it was a power packed week so thank you for having me!

all pictures by Marijn Eland