CD info
CD info


Album: Just Friends Jammin'



liner notes / Jeroen de Valk:

Colette Wickenhagen doesn’t like to show off, and doesn’t need to do so either. But she just can’t help sounding like a complete jazz singer.

She is able to deliver a text in a meaningful way, making every word count; when she sings about ‘chills on my spine’ (in her memorable rendition of ‘How Long Has This Been Going On’) you just have to believe her. But she can also scat in the right way: daring, harmonically advanced, not just some silly ‘shoo-be-doo-be’.

She sings perfectly in tune and uses an impressive range, but still manages to sound warm and relaxed.

Her behaviour is like Duke Ellington’s singer Ivie Anderson: a glamorous showgirl onstage, dancing and flirting, but very down to earth and ‘one of the boys’ backstage.

Her only problem, according to herself, is that she feels ill at ease in the studio. As a result, she decided to record the cd you just purchased in the way one would organise a jam session. ‘Jammin’’ with some kindred spirits: ‘Just Friends’, as the title and subtitle of the record confirm.

She turned the recording into a spontaneous affair. For once, she decided not to prepare every single tune but just let the music happen.

She couldn’t ignore some mainstays of her repertoire: ‘They Can’t Take That Away From Me’, ‘The Nearness Of You’ and the three songs done with a bossa beat: ‘Agua De Beber’, ‘The Days Of Wine And Roses’ and ‘What A Difference A Day Made’. ,The audience keeps asking for these tunes’’, she states, ,,and I always enjoys singing them.’’

But most of the repertoire she never sang before on stage! She heard two of the songs for the first time just one day before the recording session. ,,I heard ‘More Than You Know’ on You Tube and fell in love with the song. Clous van Mechelen, my regular saxophone player, came up with ‘No Moon At All’ and we decided to do that one as well.’’

She sang ‘How Long Has This Been Going On’ because Frits Katee had done a fabulous job on ‘They Can’t Take That Away From Me’ and she wanted to keep him in the studio a little longer.

Saskia Laroo’s trumpet can be heard on a blues named ‘Jetlag Jam’, because Laroo came to the studio straight from a tour in Dubai.

‘’s Wonderful’ was a request from drummer Ben Schröder. At the end of the day, there was some studio time left and Colette decided to do some more up-tempo-tunes. On the spot, she called for the chestnuts ‘Just Friends’ and ‘Just One Of Those Things’.

,,Working in the studio really went smoothly this time. We had fun and gradually, I felt at ease and noticed I was singing as relaxed as I do on stage. It had to be like that, with all those great guys backing me! The really carried me through.’’

The musicians are from various backgrounds. Violonist Michael Gustorff is a conservatory teacher who hails from Germany, Rinus Groeneveld (heard on ‘The Days Of Wine And Roses’ and ‘Jetlag Jam’) is a self-taught tenor man with a huge sound and roots in the blues, Clous van Mechelen (also on tenor here, his favourite horn) is a well-known composer and producer of music for theatre and commercials, trumpeter Saskia Laroo tours the world with her hip dance outfit and the many-sided reedman Frits Katee (heard on baritone) is currently working with the Dutch Swing College Band.

Pianist Hans Kwakernaat and drummer Ben Schröder belong to a rare tribe: they don’t need a solo in every track, they play for the cause and are happy just to be part of a great band. The incredibly fleet-fingered Bassist Wiro Mahieu can play as fast as Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, but never forgets to keep time with a big, dark-brown sound.

Says Colette: ,,I selected cats who all have the same attitude towards music. They’re virtuosos on their instruments, but are not interested in displaying mere technique. What you hear, is their love for the music, for jazz, for their instruments, and the common desire to make the band sound good. No egos, just dedication and great musicianship.’’

The result of all this is the best record Colette ever made. A modern classic from a singer about whom I wrote in 2005, when she was the surprise star of the Amersfoort Jazz
Festival: ,, She has a voice like a luxuriously upholstered bridal suite. Pleasant, sumptuous, warm. Complete with exciting nooks and soft carpets in subdued shades.
Colette Wickenhagen, blossomed into the complete jazz diva with her elastic timbre, almost unlimited technique, playful improvisations, penetrating interpretation of the lyrics and remarkable radiation. She was beaming; she was whirling and dancing and seemed to want to hug all the spectators, one by one.’’

Jeroen de Valk

A jazz writer since the 70s, De Valk is the author of biographies on Chet Baker and Ben Webster and Go Man, Go!, a colourful collection of jazz interviews. http://www.jeroendevalk.nl

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Rolf Polak, 9.11.09

Cd - Colette Wickenhagen
'Just Friends Jammin’' (CoGer, 2009)

It took a while before Colette Wickenhagen's new
album saw the light. Since her succesfull cd 'Songs
For Sale' was released in 2003 there has been
silence discografically from the singer. And that is
because Wickenhagen is a busy singer,
who has cultivated a forever getting warmer
throughout the years. Her performances show a
spontanious and explosive dedication, combined
with ample knowledge of the Mainstream repertoire.

It was tenor saxophone player Clous van Mechelen
who encouraged Wickenhagen to record a new album.
Officially the new cd will be released om November 9
2009 at the Grand Café van de Cinetone Studio's in
Amsterdam (NL).
Also because of the well handled publicity, it promises
to become a real happening.

When you take a look at the musicians on this cd,
'Just Friends Jammin’' is a smashing succes, with
next to Wickenhagen: Hans Kwakkernaat on the piano,
Wiro Mahieu on the double bass, Ben Schröder on the
drums, the tenor saxophone players Clous van
Mechelen and Rinus Groeneveld, Frits Kaatee on the
baritone saxophone, Saskia Laroo on trumpet
and Michael Gustorff on the violin. The cd is almost
completely made up of evergreens and helds one
composition of their own, which Wickenhagen called
'Jetlag Jam'.

The special thing about this album, is that the listener,
while listening to these thirteen tracks, never once gets
the impression of hearing stale "more of the same"
songs. With an unprecedented dedication and vocal
freshness, Colette Wickenhagen fills this album with
ectraordinary rendering of these welknown standards.
'Just Friends Jammin’' will therefore be welcomed by
a broad audience and that alone you can call an
acievement of stature!







November 2009

Geert Hakze,

More then 6 years after ‘Songs for Sale’ there is finally
a new musical baby for Colette Wickenhagen.
We had to wait six years, but our waiting is more than
rewarded, because to 'top' her last album, she had to
have a lot going for her. She did it though, with “JUST
A cd made completely to Colette's wishes. Five of the 12
songs are welknown, seven songs were never sung 'live'
by Colette before. A top cd, made by top musicians, good
for the real music lover.
The tip I give you, heat up the fireplace, take a good glass
of wine and enjoy (with or without headphones) this
wonderful product. This product is forever tenable without
ever becoming bored.


Jazz Flits

Hans Invernizzi

It was time to do it again for Colette Wickenhagen: to get
into the Clous van Mechelen studio.
The last cd ‘Songs For Sale’ dates from 2003.
Van Mechelen managed to get Wickenhagen, who'd rather
sing live and gets really nervous in a recording studio, to
record thirteen classics on a disc. There was no time for
rehearsels, so just read the chords and go: jammin's the word.
In the jazz world, you can get behind a microphone unprepaired.
jOn the condition that you surround yourself with pro's and that's
exactly what Wickenhagen (1959) did. Years of experience paid
out, because even the songs Colette heard for the first time, only
a day before the recording, on YouTube (‘More Than You Know’
and ‘No Moon At All’) sound as if they've been on the setlist for a
long time.
Playfully, the pieces of ‘Just Friends Jammin’ found their way in
to the recording apparatus of the technician. As if the group is
just playing in a café, that's how the bossa's and standard are

“Colette Wickenhagen must have been very relaxed.
You can't hear a trace of nervousness.
As if the band's just playing in a jazz café.”

Colette Wickenhagen must have been very relaxed..
You can't hear a trace of nervousness. She takes all the space,
so the layers of her deep alto voice and advanced vocal
techniques (she scats a lot and good) are heard at it's best.
It must be, that her friends Hans Kwakkernaat (piano),
Wiro Mahieu (double bass), Ben Schröder (drums), Clous van
Mechelen and Rinus Groeneveld (tenor sax), Frits Katee
(baritone sax), Michael Gustorff (violin) and Saskia Laroo
(trumpet) have really enjoyed themselves as well.

Hans Invernizzi


Agenda: New CD Colette Wickenhagen: “Just Friends Jammin’” 10 Nov 09

Bob van Eekhout

Colette, Bob and the CD

If you ask Colette Wickenhagen what her profession is, she will answer within a split second:
“Jazz singer”. I think that doesn't do her justice. No justice at all actually. I would say:
“Of course, you are a jazz singer and a good one too, but for me you are also an entertainer”.
Colette makes 1+1 to be 3.

Simply said, there is a difference between singing a song and “living” a song. Last night
(9 November) I witnessed Colette’s gifts in that area, while visiting the presentation of her new
CD ” Just Friends Jammin”. Surrounded by really good musicians of name and fame, she sang 'live'
some of the songs of her new CD, in a bursting at the seams Cafe CineTone in Amsterdam (NL)

Afterwards on my way home I was thinking about how to write about this "living the song" in this review.
Inspiratie came immediately: “to have the ability as a singer to get the music, the musicians, the
audience and herself to connect”. That, jazz friends, is what it's all about in music, Whatever sort of music.

I'm not going to compare Colette with other singers (pianist Bert van den Brink has forbidden me to
compare, see his wonderful comments on my site about my review of his formidable Reflections CD)
and I don't need to.
But I think that it's a rare thing, that a singer manages to bring such skills in such a formidable way,
literally and figurally, to the footlights.

The presentation was a party, with enthousiastic and inspired musicians, dito audience and of course
Colette (and her husband and kids !) beaming in the lime light. As a well oiled family bussiness, Ma
Wickenhagen did the frontwork, dad the PR and the kids sat at the register. The musicians, who don't
play with each other every day in this combination, made it a fabulous session. With enormous
technical skills heard in the solo’s of the musicians and in the fact that they effortlessly switched from a
4/4 to a 3/4 and back, in “How long has this been going on”. Pure class and an example of how good
these musicians were in connecting with each other and how creative.

All of the musicians were really good, but the performance of violinist Michael Gustorff was a surprise.
It's been a long time since we heard such a good jazz violinist, not since the days of Frans Poptie.
To Swing with a violin is an exceptional occupation.

And then the CD, I'm not going to analize. Just get submerged and enjoy, on your way to work, going home,
at night having dinner, late at night on the couch, while peeling the potatoes, before going to bed,
in bed whilst having sunday morning breakfast, I'm only giving you some suggestions. Because this is not
just jazz, this is “ENTERTAINMENT !” I short, we're getting up with it and we're going to bed with it.

Bob van Eekhout.