According to the internationally acclaimed website AllAboutJazz “Harmen Fraanje is emerging as one of the most impressive young European pianists of the past decade.” The same website selected a performance by this trio with Clemens van der Feen and Flin van Hemmen as one of their favorite concerts of 2010.
Pianist and composer Harmen Fraanje was born in Roosendaal, The Netherlands in 1976. As a teenager he found a lot of inspiration during his weekly meetings with his piano teacher Frank Jansen, his art teacher Frans Stohr and blues guitarist Ralph de Jongh.During his study Piano Jazz and Improvised Music at the conservatories of Tilburg and Utrecht (teachers Willem Kühne and Bert van den Brink) Harmen was recognized as being a versatile pianist by musicians like trumpeter Eric Vloeimans and saxophonist Mete Erker, who both asked Harmen to join their groups. Around this time bassplayer Hein van de Geyn offered Harmen to release an album for his label Challenge Jazz. Harmen recorded his debut album Sonatala with Brazilian guitarist Nelson Veras, French drummer Matthieu Chazarenc and bassist Hein van de Geyn. The album was presented during a concert at the North Sea Jazz Festival in 2004. In 2006 they recorded the album ’Ronja’ with French flute player Malik Mezzadri.
Momentarily Harmen is very active and continuously on the road to perform with projects that he leads or co-leads. Besides that Harmen is regularly asked as a sideman and guest. He performs frequently with trio Reijseger Fraanje Sylla, with cellist Ernst Reijseger and Senegalese vocalist and percussionist Mola Sylla. The trio recorded two trio albums for the German label Winter and Winter: ’Down Deep’ and ‘Count till Zen’. Both albums captured worldwide attention and got very positive reviews. Further the trio recorded and composed music for several movies by Werner Herzog, Roberto Zazzara and Martijn Maria Smits.
For more than 10 years Harmen has been playing in a trio with French musicians Toma Gouband (stones, drums, percussion) and Brice Soniano (bass). This group recorded two albums for the French label Cristal Records. And in may 2015 the trio released the album ‘Shades of Blue’ using their own platform/label Astropi. For some years the trio is finding inspiration in investigating numbers and proportions. The trio also invited guests such as Guilhem Verger, Malik Mezzadri, Michael Moore, Juan Parra and Fredrik Ljungkvist.
Harmen has his trio with Clemens van der Feen on bass and Flin van Hemmen on drums. They recorded the album ‘Avalonia’ for Challenge Records. The trio performed also in quartet with American saxophonist Tony Malaby.
For some years now Harmen and guitarist Anton Goudsmit co-lead a quartet with German bass clarinet player Rudi Mahall and drummer Samuel Rohrer from Switzerland. Further there is a collaboration with Martijn Vink (drums) and guitarist Reinier Baas.
As a sideman Harmen performs with the Michael Moore quartet. This group with Michael Vatcher (drums) and Clemens van der Feen (bass) recorded 3 cd’s, all released by Michael Moore’s label Ramboy Records.In 2014 the quartet toured the in USA, also visiting Moore’s hometown Eureka.
Harmen is member of two groups of the Norwegian bassplayer Mats Eilertsen. The Mats Eilertsen trio with drummer Thomas Strønen recorded two albums for the Norwegian label Hubro. Mats also started a larger ensemble ‘Rubicon’ with saxophonists Trygve Seim & Eirik Hegdal, Rob Waring on vibraphone, guitarist Thomas T Dahl and Finnish drummer Olavi Louhivuori. Harmen is also sideman in the Clemens van der Feen quartet and guest with the Pit Dahm trio.
Harmen is in the faculty of the Conservatory of Amsterdam. And he’s frequently invited to give masterclasses and workshops at other conservatories.
Classical music, Jazz, improvised music have had a big influence on Harmen’s music and compositions. Nowadays he as well loves listening to traditional music from anywhere. His current favorites are recordings of Shona music from Rhodesia/Zimbabwe (Hakurotwi Mude), Mbenzele Pygmy music from Republic Central Africa and accordeon music of the Masikoro Country in Madagascar.
Harmen currently lives in Amsterdam with his girlfriend Esther and their twin boys Finn and Bendt.
MUSICIANS Harmen performed/recorded with: Mark Turner, Malik Mezzadri, Kenny Wheeler, Nelson Veras, Michael Moore, Philip Catherine, Hein van de Geyn, Mats Eilertsen,Toma Gouband, Cristina Branco, Brice Soniano, Stéphane Galland, Tony Malaby, Rick Margitza, Reggi Washington, Ambrose Akinmusire, Theo Bleckmann, John Ruocco, Han Bennink, Anton Goudsmit, Ernst Reijseger, Bert Joris, Jimmy Haslip, Jesse van Ruller, Flin van Hemmen, Clemens van der Feen, Enrico Rava, John Engels, Nils Ostendorf, Toots Thielemans, Dré Pallemaerts, Michael Vatcher, Charlie Dee, Joachim Badenhorst, Thomas Morgan, Martijn Vink, Olivier Steidle, Nils Wogram, Fredrik Ljungkvist, Alan ‘Gunga’ Purves, Mola Sylla, Luciano Biondini, Dick Oats, Igor Roma, Trygve Seim, Eirik Hegdal, Concordu e Tenore de Orosei, Werner Herzog, Samuel Rohrer, Rudi Mahall, Louis Moholo, Eyvind Kang, Ben van Gelder, Bert Cools, Reinier Baas, Matiss Cudars, Groove Lélé from Reunion Islands, Jasper Stadhouders, Onno Govaert, Tristan Renfrow, Rónán Ó Snodaigh, Ferenc Kovács, Kálmán Balogh, Per Oddvar Johansen.