Deep roots, a powerful pilar and a crown reaching for the heavens. Every tree sprouts in simplicity. A small seed is enough. Time and space allow trees to grow into mighty giants. It is no different in music. Through purity and patience mastery is revealed. With his ensemble OAK, the Dutch jazz pianist and composer Sjoerd van Eijck (1992, Breda) touches the core of his music, as a fully grown oak exuberantly exploring the space around it and intensifying the colours of the sky.
With a sense of adventure, Van Eijck reveals the silent poetry that hides within the piano. He has an almost physical bond with the instrument. “The resonance of the strings, the singing wood. I most enjoy composing on the piano. I don’t need much, only a couple of solid chords. For me, the magic starts behind the grand piano.”
Over the years, Sjoerd van Eijck has refined his lyrical style of improvisation. He got his education at the Conservatory of Tilburg. Lessons from pianists such as Wolfert Brederode, Harmen Fraanje, Rembrandt Frerichs en Jeroen van Vliet impressed him greatly. Yet, Van Eijck took this experience to create his own sound. He plays in a humble way, ever searching the edges of silence and serenity. His touch on the piano is unparalleled. Melodies and rhythms are reduced to its essence – materials with which Van Eijck paints intimate stories. “I think very harmoniously. Melodies well up, sometimes I sing. New things always emerge from singing along to the piano chords. I prefer playing less notes to more. I live by the ‘virtuosity of elimination’, every note should be spot on.”
It’s time for Sjoerd van Eijck to step into the spotlight as composer and band leader. His ensemble OAK – which he established in 2019 – is a vehicle for him to realise this dream. Van Eijck has gathered fellow musicians who sense his intimate style to the tiniest detail. Trumpet player Koen Smits, bass player Alessandro Fongaro and percussionist Willem Romers add richness and steering rhythms to his distinct signature. In the sound of OAK, influences from free improvisation, classical music (Bach to Ravel), minimalism and the Scandinavian melodic jazz come together. “I tell a story that anyone can experience in their own way. The listener is taken on journey that is never the same”, Van Eijck emphasises. In 2021 the focus lies with creating OAK’s debut album, supported by talent development project Music Hub Brabant.
As part of the widely celebrated trio Mudita, Sjoerd van Eijck has gained a lot of experience. This worldly trio consists of singer Sanne Rambags, trumpet player Koen Smits and Sjoerd van Eijck on piano. Melancholic warm-hearted jazz filled with sounds of world and folk music. Mudita’s atmospheric debut album Listen To The Sound Of The Forest (ZenneZ Records) was awarded with an Edison (Jazz World Vocal/National) in 2019. Van Eijck also regularly shares the stage with like-minded musicians as trumpet player Eric Vloeimans, pianist Jeroen van Vliet, guitarists Anton Goudsmit and Reinier Baas, saxophonists Mete Erker and Maarten Hogenhuis, and many others.
When Sjoerd van Eijck isn’t playing, he teaches others the tricks of the trade. For example, he teaches at the Conservatory of Tilburg (AMPA) and music school de Nieuwe Veste in Breda. For Van Eijck, music is a lifelong passion which you share and embrace with as many people as possible.