The organ secularised with sophistication
On Sunday evening, July 5th 2015, something special happened in the Great Church of Oosthuizen: with their program MeantoneBlues, Guus Janssen and Melle Weijters led the religious organ back to its mundane origins. Or, put differently: ‘Your roots are in the mean streets, that ‘ll never change’, says Donald Fagen in ‘I took you out of the ghetto’ (Sunken Condos, 2012).
A year before, on September 28 2014, they successfully performed a similar program called ‘MicroBlues’ at the Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ, in which they explored the possibilities of the 31-tone system. The attentiveness of Herman van Leuven, member of the local commission, connected it to Oosthuizen. The vocal intonation and meantone tuning turned the organ in Oosthuizen into a virtual vocalist in compositions by Miles Davis, Ellington and Hendrix.
Even more sophisticatedly, the players realised the endearing rawness of the vocal blues style on their instruments. As a guitarist, Weijters specialises in the so-called microtonality: playing with very small intervals. Jansen took advantage of similar magnitudes which have been slumbering for ages in the meantone tuning of the instrument of Oosthuizen.
The sixteenth-century Estampie, now as an organ solo, appeared to be from the Fleming Jan de Macque, who, as Giovanni de Macque, was a hit in Gesualdo’s circles in Naples. In Downhome Blues, Weijters demonstrated a harp guitar from 1917, a kind of theorbo with free resonating strings.
Both musicians showed an overwhelming virtuosity, in such a way that by the end of the concert a magical atmosphere was created from Weijters’s Texels Kebab seamlessly blending into Hendrix’s Red House flowing into a sheer endless coda over Lonely Woman by Ornette Coleman.
An excellently dosed sound feast in a proportionally decorated Great Church with an attentive and enthusiastic public, deserving a continuation!