Hans-Peter de Zeeuw a.k.a. d’Z is a Dutch drummer and composer in the soul, jazz and funk genres. Born to a conservative family in Rotterdam, the life of d’Z changed at the age of nine when he took his first drum lesson. He knew he was destined to be a drummer. By 19, d’Z attended the largest conservatory for pop, jazz and world music in Europe, being taught by leading musicians of the Netherlands. It wasn’t long before d’Z was a sought-after drummer, but he attended the summer of 2016 before turning his attentions to recording. d’Z handpicked his favorite 5 original songs and headed off to his favorite producer, Raoul Soentken. Together they brought in some of Holland’s best musicians, and then decided to call in a different singer for each song.
The choices fell on Katie Léone (Incognito, Chaka Khan, The Brand New Heavies, Jocelyne Brown), Freddi Lubitz, a German singer and bass player, Ingmar Glerum, a young Dutch vocal and guitar talent, and Adriana Romijn, a well-known singer in the Netherlands. The EP’s title track was trusted to American vocalist Sandra St Victor, former singer of The Family Stand, and longtime background singer for Chaka Khan, as well as a two-time Grammy nominee.
With all this glorious talent it is uncanny to behold how d’Z is the driving force throughout the “Connected” EP. It is his vision of creating a soul/jazz/funk hybrid combined with talented musicians which bring the music alive and add a performance depth on the recording – one which you would usually only get from a live show.
The album begins in true souled-out jazz fashion – from the smooth tones of the brass section, which complement the self-assured, soulful vocals of Freddi Lubitz and the riveting mid-tempo groove provided by the array of backing instruments on “Conviction”. It is trend which is paved out throughout most of the EP.
With its fusionesque bounce and power, its ability to take every favorable extract from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s scene, and revive it with a modern twist is admirable in the sparkling funky rhythms of “Lovin’ & Dancin’” Ft Katie Léone. Apart from the dazzling musical arrangement, super-tight rhythm section, and fiery electric guitar interludes, Katie’s vocal tones, phrasing and range is spectacular and pure Adrenalin to the ear.
“Lovin’ & Dancin’” is a strong demonstration of interwoven guitar, bass and horn patterns, where one instrument will allow the other to perform their nuances before coming together as a formidable force and blow the song out of the water.
“Clean Slate” Ft Adriana Romijn steps down the energy a notch for an auditory reprise, as d’Z and the band smooth out the tones and groove, going for a richer and more luscious soundscape. The second part of the song picks up the momentum with some fabulous horn passages and stunning drum fills by d’Z, as the performance crew step up the song’s complexity coefficient.
“Something New” Ft Ingmar Glerum contains some of the EP’s finest drumming moments. The syncopated, intricate rhythms and patterns are full of vibrancy, aiding in the song reaching its full potential. Again, the brass arrangements are no less than breathtakingly impressive, while the guitar and bass drive the song into a state of delirium.
By the time the title track, “Connected” Ft Sandra St Victor, hits your sound system, it is just to confirm all of the greatness which has occurred before. This track encapsulates all of the remarkable elements that makes d’Z and his crew such an infectious bunch of performers. The rhythm section, the brass, the guitar, and of course the extra-dark, chocolate-soul vocals, of Sandra St Victor.
The EP “Connected” is a recording which d’Z can be proud of. This is a stellar effort, with top-notch vocals, musicianship, groove, production, arrangement, writing, and feel. In amongst the sterling choice of musicians and singers, the structure of the songs and the ability to create some of the most accessible jazz, soul and funk songs in the last decade, d’Z has proved that he is one of the most relevant underground artists of his kind currently on the scene. This EP is a keeper.