Dutch jazz pianist Harmen Fraanje plays in several groups of his own in addition to working as a sideman for numerous other musicians.
His style -- light, warm, involving, and strongly influenced by his classical background -- expertly balances playfulness with gravitas.
Fraanje was born in Roosendaal in 1976 into a music-loving family and began to take piano lessons at the age of eight. At 16 he discovered jazz, drawn to it by his own love of improvising. He studied jazz piano and improvised music at Tilburg and Utrecht conservatories, where he was invited to play in the groups of trumpeter Eric Vloeimans and saxophonist Mete Erker. His debut album as a leader was 2004's Sonatala on Challenge, with guitarist Nelson Veras, drummer Matthieu Chazarenc, and bassist Hein van de Geyn. The same formation (with the addition of flautist Magic Malik) recorded 2006's Ronja. 2010's Avalonia saw Fraanje form a new trio with bassist Clemens van der Feen and drummer Flin van Hemmen, and featured saxophonist Michael Moore. Fraanje went on to record three albums with Moore's own quartet. His trio with cellist Ernst Reijseger and Senegalese vocalist/percussionist Mola Sylla recorded two albums for Winter & Winter, 2013's Down Deep and 2015's Count 'til Zen. Fraanje was also part of bassist Mats Eilertsen's trio with drummer Thomas Strønen, which recorded two albums for Hubro, 2010's Elegy and 2013's Sails Set. Having made his ECM debut in 2016 with Eilertsen's Rubicon ensemble, he recorded again for the label in 2019 with the bassist's trio on And Then Comes the Night. Fraanje's style is influenced by Ligeti, Messiaen, and Bach, as well as ethnic musics from around the world. ~ John D. Buchanan, Rovi