Corrie van Binsbergen is one of the most notable electric guitarists on the Dutch creative music scene, whether focusing on jazzy improvising, avant-gardist composing, or just plain rocking it up.
A fiery soloist with a Zappa streak, she is probably best known as the leader of two energetic and challenging yet audience-pleasing ensembles, Corrie en de Brokken (Corrie & the Lumps) and Corrie en de Grote Brokken (Corrie & the Big Lumps), the latter 12-member group incorporating pop/rock vocalists in a skewed mélange of jazz, rock, blues, funk, and more. Over the course of her career, van Binsbergen (winner of the Boy Edgar Prijs in 1999) has also composed music for theater, dance, silent film, spoken word, and operatic performances, and is artistic director of Stichting Brokken, which has produced cross-disciplinary projects in which she and many other Dutch artists have been featured.
Born in Tiel, Netherlands, in 1957, van Binsbergen completed classical guitar studies at the Utrechts Conservatorium in 1983. Soon thereafter she began collaborating with Dutch improvising musicians and made her first appearance at Amsterdam's Bimhuis venue. In 1986 she formed the first version of Corrie en de Brokken, featuring the guitarist with saxophonist Tobias Delius, trumpeter Angelo Verploegen, bassist Hein Offermans, and drummer Arend Niks, soon to be joined by trombonist Joost Buis. The band appeared at the North Sea Jazz Festival in 1987, and over the next few years van Binsbergen involved herself in composing and playing with dance and other projects (including Klaas ten Holt's all-guitar outfit Seven Slowhands, which released an eponymous album in 1988) before Corrie en de Brokken debuted on record with the Bvhaast label album Alles Beweegt (Everything Moves) in 1990.
Van Binsbergen stepped back from leading her own projects after the birth of her daughter in 1991, but continued to participate in various Dutch ensembles until launching a second version of Corrie en de Brokken -- including saxophonist Frans Vermeerssen, saxophonist/vibraphonist Hans Hasebos, trumpeter Felicity Provan, bassist Offermans, and drummer Charles Huffstadt -- in 1995. The group made its live premiere with an adventurous and entertaining set at the Bimhuis in May of 1995, a performance captured on the 1996 Bvhaast disc Live!
Van Binsbergen also established the aforementioned Stichting Brokken production company in 1996, and in December of that year the larger-lumped Corrie en de Grote Brokken made their first live appearance on the Dutch scene, with a lineup including pop/rock singers Bob Fosko, Beatrice van der Poel, and Wouter Planteijdt (the latter also a guitarist) along with van Binsbergen, Verploegen, Hasebos, Offermans, Niks, trombonist David Rothschild, saxophonists Jasper Blom and Rutger van Otterloo, and keyboardist Dionys Breukers. In 1997 Corrie en de Grote Brokken brought their high-energy, theatrical, Zappa-flavored avant jazz-rock-blues show to numerous European festivals and concert venues, and also released their two-disc eponymous debut album on the Via label. The guitarist would finish out the decade with various additional projects and bands in areas ranging from dance to improvisation to rock (releasing two albums in 1999: the rockish quartet outing Vanbinsbergen and the album Links -- Ouvrir Ici featuring pianist Albert Van Veenendaal, percussionist Joshua Samson, and a string trio), and she even played as a guest soloist with the Jazz Orchestra of Amsterdam's Concertgebouw.
In 2000 Corrie en de Grote Brokken released their second album, Kado Uit de Hel! (Gift from Hell!), a live recording of a van Binsbergen "mini-opera" (reissued by Buzz Records in 2007), as well as the self-released Brokstukken. Various other projects -- Zappa-related and otherwise -- occupied van Binsbergen's energies over the following years, including Stichting Brokken productions of "Literary Concerts" featuring the works of writers and poets with musical accompaniment. In 2005 the guitarist/bandleader was back with another Grote Brokken album, Het Land Is Moe (Land Is Tired), released by Challenge Records, and also formed a new band, CRAM, featuring (C)orrie with saxophonist (R)utger van Otterloo, drummer (A)rend Niks, and bassist (M)ick Paauwe. In 2008 van Binsbergen founded her Brokken Records label, which released its first album, the CRAM disc For a Dog, that year.
Brokken Records would issue a number of van Binsbergen albums in the following years. Over de Bergen (Over the Mountains), an opera composed by van Binsbergen and featuring Belgian actor/director Josse De Pauw, arrived on the label in 2010. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the 1986 founding of Corrie en de Brokken, the Corrie en de Grote Brokken album Vier! (Four!) was released in 2011; a mixtape-style best-of, the album featured selections from the Grote Brokken albums Corrie en de Grote Brokken, Kado Uit de Hel!, and Het Land Is Moe, edited and sequenced by van Binsbergen to create, as she described in the liner notes, a "whole new and energetic record" and a "groovy, greatest hits, guitar album." Life changes subsequently brought about a period of contemplation for van Binsbergen, as reflected in her next Brokken Records album, 2013's Self Portrait in Pale Blue, a set of understated solo guitar improvisations and soundscapes. ~ Dave Lynch, Rovi