About the band
The Dutch piano trio, pianist Ed Baatsen, bassplayer Han Slinger and drummer Bert Kamsteeg make up the jazz band Kenturah’s Kitchen. In composition, undeniably a piano trio, but with quite a difference. What we might come to expect from an ordinary jazz piano trio is certainly alien to this trio. It looks as if they are a band that has simply embarked on the path of piano-double bass-drums and are doing their own thing with it. However, what one might expect from such a trio whose music pivots on togetherness and the interaction is not the only thing they do. In fact, each member of Kenturah’s Kitchen can also go freely his own way. And with remarkable results.
As we can hear from their new album Oeroeboeroe, the trio principally plays their own compositions, except for the track Sweet Goodbyes from the former (Dutch) rock group Krezip. Only the core of this haunting number is recognisable, draped with improvisations on piano, double bass and drums which shows the limitless versatility of Kenturah’s Kitchen.
The trio derives its name from the American visual artist, Kenturah Davis, who evokes expressiveness with her mix of portrait art and design. Of course visual art is not music; but listening to this trio, we can hear well how different perspectives in art can inspire and give new forms of expression to the phenomenon of jazz and musical improvisation. Kenturah’s Kitchen is a striking example of this.
The use of different time signatures, double bass effects and a diversity in rhythms, moods and form, coupled with the band’s dynamic style of playing, has led to enthusiastic reactions by press and public.
Now five years in existence, Kenturah’s Kitchen has two albums to its name: KLiCK (2013) and Oeroeboeroe (2016).
In their own studio in The Hague they have developed a style that is difficult to categorize but which can be regarded as jazz of today.
In the media
“Competent and tender”
“An absolutely smooth and melodious swing with fine tension curves”
“Truly contemporary — of this time”
“The swing and rich melodic form, the unexpected changes and the popular sounds of the jazz years make KLiCK an enduring album”
“An enticing adventure”
“Excellent contemporary jazz”
“As a composer, Baatsen can reach remarkable heights”
“… a new form for piano trio”
Armand Serpenti about Kenturah's Kitchen
The American artist Kenturah Davis draws layer over layer with words and sentences until a work of art appears. The captivating music created by the jazz trio, Kenturah’s Kitchen, named after her, is rooted in the same magical mechanism. Rhymthic in form, chords, colour, mood, melodic insight: they roll over and lie on top of each other until they shine in the foreground as refrain singers in a tight but light-footed composition, transparently improvised, popular.
Brewing in the ‘Kitchen’ are the spiced ingredients from the world of pop, latin and jazz. Reflect on the breath in Ahmad Jamal’s piano playing, the vocal sound of bassist Charlie Haden, the intriguing simplicity of the band Coldplay, the progressive R&B of the singer Beyoncé: powerful melodies, compelling songs.
A bold choice for simplicity is the key signature of pianist Ed Baatsen, who heads up the trio: dismantle, build and lay bare. For contrabassist Han Slinger, groove is more sacred than food, colour more important than water. Drummer Bert Kamsteeg juggles playfully and humorously with his unique timing. Kenturah’s Kitchen — six hands, one trio, making real music.
Whether it be a deconstructed cover version or their own composition, what unfolds each time is a multi-layered narrative that draws you in. Listening, you can zoom in and out. From a distance, the tune you hear is strong, an earworm, even. Tune in deeper and you experience its dynamics. Just like looking at a Kenturah Davis painting.
Yes, there are more bands who share these qualities. What then makes this trio so unique?
The incredible width of context to which the music adapts while sounding nothing less than outstanding and exquisite. This is a ‘must’. Kenturah’s Kitchen feels as much at home on a cool pop music stage as in a theatre or a jazz joint. Or at home, couch surfing on a trip with what Baatsen calls: “music of the here and now”.