A pair of globetrotting musicians from the Netherlands will touch down this weekend in Gibsons for the last stop on a long-awaited concert tour of Canada.
Vocalist and pianist Ineke Vandoorn and guitarist Marc van Vugt have been collaborating as a jazz duo for three decades and over a dozen albums. The two are repeat recipients of the prestigious Edison Jazz Award (the Dutch equivalent of the American Grammys). Vandoorn and van Vugt have been performing in Canada since 1997.
But the duo’s third cross-Canada tour was postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic, frustrating efforts to promote a new album crafted from earlier collaboration with Canadian artists.
“We’d been travelling quite a lot,” said van Vugt. “Not only in Canada but throughout the world. And while you’re travelling as a musician, you meet all these people and all these different cultures. When we were doing our tour in 2018, we took those recordings home. And what we recorded in Canada appeared to be so great that we released it as an album.”
Crossing Canada features the pair’s collaboration with Irish-born (and longtime Toronto resident) drummer Mark Kelso as well as eight-time Juno-winning guitarist Michael Occhipinti.
Collaboration and musical education are hallmarks of the pair’s approach. During a residency at Capilano University, they worked with two different ensembles. In Europe, they regularly record with Metropole Orkest (Metropole Orchestra), a jazz and pop orchestra based in the Netherlands.
“We have different functions,” said Vandoorn. “When I write lyrics, I am very much inspired by this atmosphere that Marc creates with his music. And it’s actually the same kind of starting point for my improvisations. When you improvise, you add to the song a personal note. It’s like an extension, an interpretation of the composition.”
In 2016, Vandoorn published Singing From the Inside Out, a technique handbook that has been adopted for use by music departments at post-secondary institutions across Canada, including Humber College and Capilano University. Following the pair’s concert appearance in Nelson last week, vocal instructors at Selkirk College added it to the school’s curriculum.
The Crossing Canada album represents an idiosyncratic fusion of cultures and genres. The country’s multicultural fabric is an easy fit for van Vugt’s wide-ranging musical appetite.
“I’m inspired by classical music, but also a lot by Latin American music and Brazilian music,” said van Vugt. “When I was 17, for about five years, I listened almost only to Brazilian music. I don’t know why that happened, but it’s a huge influence in my music. In Brazil, there’s not such a differentiation between popular music, classical and jazz. They just want to make great music and that’s sort of our attitude as well.”
In Crossing Canada, Van Vugt’s guitar arrangements blend with Vandoorn’s rhapsodic vocals to become cosmopolitan duets, marking liminal moments like dawn (“The night is chasing my gloomy dreams,” Vandoorn croons) and supernal joy. In their number Sunny Side Up, Vandoorn demonstrates virtuosic scatting with a decidedly bluesy flavour.
“Some of the music that we perform and some of the lyrics that I perform are in Dutch,” said Vandoorn. The owner of the High Beam Dreams performance venue in Gibsons, Vineet Miglani, specifically asked for a Dutch number like their plaintive song Liefde (“Love”). “So that will be one of the things that we will be doing.”
Ineke Vandoorn and Marc van Vugt appear at High Beam Dreams in Gibsons on Nov. 10 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available at tickettailor.com/events/highbeamdreams.