When the soulful samba jazz flutist and composer Han Litz formed his own group it wasn’t about gathering together some musicians to play his songs. It was about bringing together some friends whose collective sound he knew would inspire him in writing customised compositions. Yes, the emphasis is indeed on ‘Group’. Litz first fell in love with the flute at age 3. He had to wait 10 years before he got his own, and a couple of more years before he first heard jazz on the radio and was transfixed. After graduating from the Amsterdam Conservatory and scoring a hit with jungle/soul act 2 Bass Hit in the 1990s, Litz went on to play with a variety of genrebounding bands: the broken-beat groovsters Flowriders, the Coltrane re-arrangers Kindred Spirits Ensemble and DJ collective Supa Dance Jam. He has also shared stages with the likes of Louie Vega, DJ Maestro (Blue Note), Jazzanova, New Cool Collective, Zuco 103 and Osunlade. Litz is also co-leader of the funky Brazilian group Lex Empress & The Royals who host a monthly night at Amsterdam’s city beach Blijburg since 2006.
Two other members of The Royals, bassist/double bassist Eric Calmes and guitarist Folker Tettero, are also in the line-up of the Han Litz Group. Acting as the ‘calm’ foundation, Calmes comes with a vast knowledge of music from his long career as session man for the likes of Randal Corsen, Izaline Callister and Sean Bergin. Tettero, who also plays with singer Carmen Gomes, uses his acoustic and electric guitars to not only create harmonies but also to ensure that these harmonies connect solidly to the rhythm and groove. Meanwhile Thijs Cuppen gets lyrical on the piano, Fender Rhodes and melodica. Renown for his work with Susanne Alt Quartet and his own Thijs Cuppen Trio, Cuppen works equally hard at connecting the harmony to the melody as he is with his fly-away solos. Singer Kris Rietveld is the youngest band member, he strengthens the soulful side and completes the group sound with his flexible voice. And then there’s Udo Demandt who has returned to his original roots as drummer after playing as a percussionist with the likes of So Sensual, Fra Fra Sound and various flamenco groups. As Litz observes, ‘It’s really hard to find a drummer/percussionist who can combine jazz, funk and samba. But we found him!’
The resulting debut album Epiphany showcases each of the musician’s singular sound and colours—as well as their ability to play for the greater good. These musical friends obviously had a great time making Litz’s dream come true while recording this album in a German farmhouse ‘in the middle of nowhere’. Soulful jazz and Brazilian samba form the basis, while inspiration also comes from Dave Valentin, Jeremy Steig (whose looped flute sample provided the basis for Beastie Boys ‘Sure Shot’), Stevie Wonder and, yes, even Jethro Tull. Litz is very happy with the results: ‘Musicianship is more than playing an instrument. It’s about being part of a strong and synergetic group of the right openminded people. Together, our individual qualities form a whole.’
Colour with content. Warmth with an edge. In the service of the groove. Where heaven and earth meet.
Phil Horneman (Wicked Jazz Sounds, Radio 6) - “Wat een vet album is dit! Dit debuut bestaat uit een keur aan diversiteit met als rode draad de dwarsfluit in al z’n pracht en glorie. Bijgestaan door top muzikanten heeft Han Litz er een mooie samensmelting van weten te maken die blijft boeien. ‘Epiphany’ is een lust voor het oor“.
Alexander Barck (Jazzanova/Sonar Kollektiv, Berlin) ”…this album is just pure and honest. Well done!”
Kees Heus (Paradiso/ Kindred Spirits) ”De composities hebben een diepzinnige luchtigheid met veel verrassende en spannende wendingen en lagen. Een prachtig debuut“.
Seymour Nurse (The Bottom End, London) ”So good to hear ‘real’ heartfelt music in this window of time“.
Monte La Rue (a.o. Jazzism/ Music for Fashion) ”Epiphany is a massive achievement & big surprise from Holland’s most versatile jazz flute player. Funky world music with an international twist.”
“Litz is a master flutist and his band exists only of great musicians”.”The hypnotising A Samurai’s Way is a superb piece of music”. Lust For Life
“This must be a divine revelation”. “The control and harmony that astray from this music is both touching and overwhelming, besides that Litz is a master on his instruments”. “….impressive debut that would easily fit on an international label like Blue Note of Verve”. Jazzism
“Most striking about this album is that the music sounds so cheerful and has such a superb groove.” “…tremendous solo’s! “ BN De Stem
“…in this sublime album that moves from Jazz to Brazil, to Funk”. “Litz himself is starring on the (alto) flute, it seems as though he speaks through his flute”. Jazzpodium.com
A must-have! Nouveau
“His solo seems to be god-given and directly touches the soul of the open-minded listener”. Jazzenzo
“From the very first notes of the title track Epiphany, you can hear that there’s such a lot of joy in playing”…..”the eye-catcher of the album is the sublime souljazz-track Blue Pages, in which the tight band is pushing this song to an impressive climax, especially because of an amazing flute solo by the bandleader himself”. WrittenInMusic
“Han Litz delivers an energetic debut album called ‘Epiphany”. Vrij Nederland
“It feels as if one is being taken on a very comfortable musictrip.” “Everything in the compositions and production of this album sounds sophisticated”. Muziekwereld