Bert Brandsma, clarinet and tenor sax
As a young boy aged 14, Bert Brandsma went to a larger theater for the
first time. It was a concert by the Chris Barber jazz and blues band in
de Oosterpoort, Groningen. Besides the excellent music, the classy and
witty announcements by Chris, and Pat Halcox wearing his real shiny
shoes, made a lasting impression. Certainly part of the reason why
Brandsma went to Conservatory a few years later.
He started studying clarinet, soon afterwards taking up
classical saxophone with Jan Schoemaker and jazz saxophone with Henny
Kluvers. At that time Bert also learned a lot from saxophonist Jenne
Meinema, then Deputy Director of the Conservatory. After earning three
bachelor's degrees he started his career as a fulltime performing
A good start was winning two contests, Leiden Jazz with
his new formed band called 'Dixieland Crackerjacks', and the Breda Jazz
Festival with 'het Fluitekruidt'. Especially the Crackerjacks would make
quite a reputation, touring Portugal, Poland, France, the UK, Germany,
Ireland and the USA.
Besides these activities as a jazz musician, Brandsma freelanced with
several larger ensembles like the Metropole Orchestra, Noord Nederlands
Orkest, Netherlands Symphony Orchestra and the Bergische Symphoniker
(D). He played more then 260 performances in the Cologne Opera House on
lead alto sax and made a name on clarinet for never failing on the
tricky opening of Gerswin's Rhapsody in Blue.
Bert also played with saxophone quartet Les Boreades, military music
KMKJWF and Bernard Berkhout and his Swing Orchestra.
In 2004 Brandsma married Slidin' Selena, first woman in the Netherlands
with a master's degree in jazz trombone. A year later, while playing
together at the Jazz Festival Hoofddorp, they were heard by several
members of the Big Chris Barber Band, including Bob Hunt. They were
highly impressed by Selena's virtuoso improvisations, but also Bert
playing the bass saxophone this time, didn't go by unnoticed.
2011 Bob Hunt recommended Brandsma to Chris Barber when a temporary
replacement was needed for a tour through Austria, Liechtenstein and
Germany. Bert ran straight from the Cologne Opera House and had a great
time with the band, resulting in doing several other short tours before
the possibility came to join the band permanently mid 2012.