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Michel Herr & Unexpected Encounters

Bert Joris : trumpet
Wolfgang Engstfeld : tenor saxophone
Michel Herr : piano, composer / arranger
Riccardo Del Fra, Frans Van der Hoeven or Philippe Aerts : double bass
Dré Pallemaerts : drums

+ Héliotrope string quartet

The Michel Herr European Quintet + a string quartet.

An unexpected encounter. This unusual ensemble originated from a commission offered to pianist/composer Michel Herr by the Belgian television network BRTN, to write an original piece for the 97 Italia Prize of the European televisions.
He came up with the proposal to associate his European Quintet with a string quartet.
It became Unexpected Encounters. The ensemble received the name of this first composition.
Building upon the success of this first step, the composer wrote a complete repertoire for this new band.
The premiere concert of Unexpected Encounters took place in August 96, at the occasion of the Bellone/Brigittines Festival, in Brussels, and met an enthusiastic response.

Michel Herr, internationally known for his talents as a jazz pianist/composer/arranger, signs here original music that really sustains the attention with a definitely personal approach.
The repertoire composed for this group is a kaleidoscope of contrasting sounds. The colours of the string instruments underline the harmonic subtleties and the richness of the compositions.

Five impressive European soloists plus a string quartet (four members of the "Orchestre Philharmonique de Liège") in a new creation. Lyrical melodies, but also energy and swing.

The band appeared a.o. during the '99 Gaume Jazz Festival (radio recording) and at the Liège Jazz Festival in 2000 (radio recording).

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The press

"One will remember the beautiful ensemble sound, one more proof of the qualities of arranger of the pianist, whose energetic side expressed itself mostly in the quintet moments." (Le Soir, André Joassin)

"Sublimated by this classical presence, our pianist delivered beautiful moments of fragile intensity." (Une Autre Chanson, Francis Chenot)

"This current project of Michel Herr is of international class. This ensemble of high quality should be more reckognized by the cultural world." (Jean-Pierre Bissot, organizer of Gaume Jazz Festival)

"The string quartet gives to the compositions a profound blend that pleases the ear and contributes to the universe of the pianist." (Le Vif/L'Express, Philippe Cornet)

"Constance is one of the multiple qualities of pianist Michel Herr. A typically European project, between improvisation and stuctures from classical music." (J@zz@round & le Matin)

"Michel avoided the trap of mixing jazz with classical. It can work out beautiful or it could turn out as a flop. He writes wonderful music and is a stunning pianist. German tenor sax Wolfgang Engstfeld and trumpeter Bert Joris contribute enormously. Herr composes specifically for his musicians, thus allowing for their style and way of playing but also leaving plenty of free space. Michel Herr's music, once again, reminded me why I love jazz." (Netbeat news, Ilan Oz)