In 2022, Dutch jazz vocalist Fay Claassen celebrates a career milestone, 25 years in the music business. To mark this milestone Jazz Impuls in conjunction with Challenge Records will release a special box set comprised of 2 LP’s and 8 CD’s along with an extensive liner notes presented in the accompanying 20 page booklet.
This special release includes more than 8 previously unreleased live concert recordings (1 per CD) ranging from her long term duo with pianist Cor Bakker through to performances with renowned orchestras and big bands such as The Metropole Orchestra and the WDR Big Band to mention just a few. The 2 LP’s included with the set feature a selection of tracks curated from the CD’s as well as 6 Bonus tracks that appear exclusively on the LP’s. This comprehensive project was conceived by Producer Paul Heller, Bob Hagen from the Jazz Impuls foundation and of course Fay herself. The proceeds of this project will go to two charities close to Fay’s heart, “Kika Kinderen Kankervrij” and “Stichting Alzheimer Nederland.
There is little doubt that Fay Claassen has earned her stripes in the Dutch jazz scene as well as building a strong reputation internationally. During her career she has performed throughout Europe with many of the jazz worlds top ensembles such as the Danish Radio Big Band, Brussels Jazz Orchestra, Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw, the Metropole Orkest and the WDR Big Band. The list of jazz legends with whom Fay Claassen has collaborated since the late 1990s reads like the ‘Who’s Who’ of jazz: the legendary Toots Thielemans, American Fusion Jazz Star Mike Stern, Cuban Latin Jazz Star Paquito D’Rivera and some of the most important arrangers of the orchestral Jazz: Bob Brookmeyer, Vince Mendoza and Michael Abene. Her ninth solo album received an “Edison Award” in 2018. In addition she has received the prestigious German “Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik”, a Gold Record Award for her album “Two Portraits of Chet Baker” in addition to the “Chet Baker Award”.
The first CD in the set goes back to 2017 and presents a concert recorded with her band by the Bayerische Rundfunk in Munich with repertoire from her “Luck Child” album. For Fay, Luck Child was a very personal project. She explained “We started working on the studio album right after my daughter Inga was born in 2011 and finished the album in 2015. It was a wonderful time to experiment with different musical ideas without having the pressure of a deadline. Watching Inga grow up in that period had such a strong effect on the music that ended up on that album.”
The second CD in the set is compiled from two concerts that Fay performed with the Metropole Orchestra in 2006 and 2008. When speaking of this set, Fay stated “This really was one of the key moments for me in my development as a singer. Vince Mendoza wrote the beautiful arrangement of ‘Comecar de Novo’. I remember this well as I dared to sing it it in Portuguese.” One of the highlights of this concert was Carlos Azevedo´s amazing composition and arrangement on: ‘Inside the Mirror of the Sun’.
During her career Fay has been a regular guest with the WDR Big Band. The third CD in the set documents a 2011 performance with the WDR Big Band at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam. For this performance the band was conducted by renowned pianist and arranger Michael Abene. “Playing at the Bimhuis is always something special, it has that “Real Jazz” vibe, a perfect setting for this program written by my all-time favourite arranger Michael Abene. During the concert Michael and I did ‘How deep Is The Ocean’ spontaneously as a Piano/Voice Duo.”
For many years Fay has performed in a duo format with pianist Cor Bakker. The forth CD in the set presents a concert Fay and Cor recorded at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam in 2019. Fay expressed that “Playing with Cor Bakker is like swimming in a warm ocean of musical ideas.” She went on to say “it doesn’t matter if we pick a Pop or Jazz song, or even a beautiful expressive Dutch theatre song. The unique thing about making music with Cor is that we always end up having a lively musical conversation with each other. It feels just so comfortable to be able to say anything we feel and know that we will always support each other’s ideas. There is this mutual trust, we can take any risk and know it will always land safely.”
Fay has always been known for her wide range of repertoire and the firth CD in the set documents this beautifully. In 2019 Fay was approached by producers Roeland Jacobs and Rob van Weelde from Wedgeview Music to tackle some timeless and iconic songs from the seventies. The result was the 2020 release “Close to You” that was nominated for two Edison’s. The concert presented on this disc was the Album Presentation recorded live at the Lantaren Venster in Rotterdam on the 17th of January, 2020.
The sixth CD in the set takes us back to 2003 at the Music Village in Brussels. Fay recalls “When Ivan Paduart asked me to collaborate with him, I found myself in a whole new musical universe, that of Ivan’s! It was also in this period that Fay first met fellow vocalist David Linx with whom she has developed a long term musical relationship with. She went on to say “I remember the concert presented here was one of the first we did and it hit the spot immediately and not to forget we also had Toots Thielemans, Bert Joris and Toon Roos with us. All these years later I still look back on this as one of my musical high points.”
The penultimate CD in the set goes back to 2006 and the “Two Portraits of Chet Baker” project. Fay stated “The Chet Baker project is probably one of the most expansive projects I’ve done and definitely one of the highlights of my 20 year long collaboration with Bob Hagen. It was a great success and in fact, the album went gold in 2013. Between 2005 and 2008 we performed this project so many times playing in many beautiful places including Japan, France and of course all over the Netherlands.” The concert presented on this disc was recorded at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and features the legendary drummer John Engels and bassist Hein van de Geyn, who also did the vocal arrangements.
The final CD in the set also documents a performance at the Concertgebouw 2002 and hold a special place in Fay heart, it was the presentation of her debut recording as a band leader. Fay recalled that this concert was “the first time I worked together with Bob Hagen as the producer. It was exciting to suddenly be the band leader after working on so many projects as a band member. Little did I know at that time that I would work together with Bob for more than 20 years.
Fay Live 25 will be released on the 19th of March and is available via Challenge records at all good music retailers and directly through the Jazz Impuls foundation.