Humble Heroes: Bart Wirtz & Emiel van Rijthoven

2 december 2022 By

Session with Dutch Saxophonist Bart Wirtz and Dutch keyboardist Emiel van Rijthoven and together they form WAAN.

WAAN represents the musical marriage of seasoned saxophonist Bart Wirtz and keyboard wiz Emiel van Rijthoven. As a pair of self-confessed tech nerds hailing from The Netherlands, their bromance was a slow burning one, but nevertheless their eventual collaboration fulfilled a dream that they’d both held close since first working together back in 2010.

Bart Wirtz who also used to host the Humble Heroes sessions is a saxophonist, bandleader, composer, arranger, producer, radio host and concert organizer. At eighteen, he went to the conservatory to study music, during which time he played in several more groups, he graduated cum laude from Rotterdam Conservatory in 2002. At the age of twenty-two he travelled to New York City where he took private lessons with musicians including the legendary U.S. saxophonist Gary Bartz. From his debut album “Prologue,” his solo career gained momentum. He won several jazz prizes including the Erasmus Jazz Prize, Leiden Jazz Award and the Breda Jazz Prize. His latest acquisition is the Edison Jazzism Publieksprijs which he won in November 2012 for his new album iDreamer which was recorded in New York together with Nicholas Payton.

“Making music is an absolute necessity for me. One with nice side effects, though. When you perform, people become happy with the music you make, although it remains a constant challenge to reach an audience. You have to make your own acquisitions, arrange things and find an audience. The best part is when at a gig everything falls together and musicians and audience lift each other to higher spheres.”

Emiel van Rijthoven is a Dutch keyboardist. Emiel started to play the piano when he was only 11 years old and eventually studied at the Conservatory. The very conservative jazz tutelage was counterbalanced by Emiel’s growing love for electronic music and his desire to expand his horizons outside of traditions – something that continues to this day. He formed a Brazilian band, called Sensuàl, with fellow student and vocalist Eva, who were together for ten years touring and recorded three albums, one of which also won an Edison Award. Emiel’s growing love for electronic music and his desire to expand his horizons outside of traditions – something that continues to this day. He is able to use this interest within the project WAAN.

Bart and Emiel met each other at the Paradox Club in 2010 where they played together in an ensemble. They wrote and played together, and quickly formed a deep bond. Their styles complemented each other perfectly, they listened to each other, and both shared a desire to play expansive, experimental music. Couple of years later Bart invited Emiel over in the studio to work together. They experimented with different styles and the new dynamic worked well. The result being their debut album Echo Echo. With influences as disparate as Floating Points, Belgian band Stuff, BadBadNotGood and Eddie Harris, the album is far more complex than just being a dance music influenced jazz record.

We hope you enjoy his session!

Musicians Bart Wirtz – Saxophone

Emiel van Rijthoven – Keys

Matteo Mazzu – Bass

Mark Schilders – Drums

Recorded on September 6, 2022.

Humble heroes © is a production of Dutch Performers House at Exalto Studio’s Haarlem

Executive producer: Corine Haitjema

Production: Daniela Solano

Sound: Bart Wagemakers

Video: Pieter Hoogland, Rens Beks