The Flatlands Collective brings together the remarkable Dutch alto saxophonist and composer Jorrit Dijkstra with some of Chicago’s most interesting improvisers. In Chicago, one of the most important musical cities in the US, he found a common ground in a more trans-national way of improvising, using open forms, and a looser interpretation of the American jazz tradition. Dijkstra says: ”I believe that the landscape in which you grow up has an effect on how your music sounds. This is what’s so interesting about jazz: musicians in New York, Barcelona, Moscow, Shanghai or Addis Ababa play this music, but there is always a distinctive local interpretation.” And he adds: “I called this group The Flatlands Collective after the landscape heritage I share as a Dutchman with the Chicago players.”
Dijkstra provides most of the compositions, in which he strives towards a balance between composed material, clear guidelines for musicians to improvise, and openness for the most adventurous kinds of improvisations. The group has developed a way of improvising that blends Chicago-style free jazz, texture-based minimalism, and melodic layering into an eclectic yet organically coherent repertoire. Dijkstra’s use of the Lyricon (a vintage analog wind synthesizer from the 1970s) and Fred Lonberg-Holm’s amplified cello adds an electronic touch to the rich variety of ideas, structures, and textures of the group sound. The Flatlands Collective has released their debut CD Gnomade in December 2006 on Skycap records, which has received 4 stars from Downbeat Magazine, and much critical acclaim by the international press.