Dutch multi-instrumentalist, composer and band-leader Saskia Laroo, known affectionately as the "Lady Miles Davis of Europe," is one of the few female trumpet players on the international stage to have led her own band and performed at top-level venues for over four decades. Internationally known for her candid improvisational purity in creating genre-defying music with the mystical elusiveness of spontaneous jazz, her latest compositions are inspired by musical traditions from cultures all over the world.
This winter, Laroo has been presenting her highly anticipated eighth album with a raucous road-party of a U.S. tour while simultaneously celebrating three career milestones: 40 years on stage as of this year, 25 years leading the Saskia Laroo Band, and 25 years since the start-up of Laroo Records. On her protean Trumpets Around The World (just released in the U.S.), Laroo skillfully combines her improvisational style and mastery of several instruments (namely the trumpet, bass, and saxophone), with modern grooves, danceable beats, fierce vocals, and conscientious rap.
Laroo plays all of her go-to instruments on Trumpets Around the World, melding together funky dance, hip-hop, and world grooves with her signature jazzy flavors. Each of the tracks on the album is a Saskia Laroo composition in collaboration with respected vocalists and instrumentalists like keyboardist/vocalist Warren Byrd, trombonist Joseph 'Mr Defunkt' Bowie, and contributions from rappers from the Netherlands, US & Burundi (Vannina Kaneza), and more!
Laroo’s music, in-kind, sounds like a global musical journey. In teaming jazz with influences from hip-hop, dance and world music, she makes it sound as if those styles have always belonged together.
“The spirit behind the album is that I love to make music for audiences of all ages and cultures,” says Laroo, “I would hope that my musical blends could eventually bring people together by understanding and appreciating each other's music. For example, I mix bebop with hip-hop, and jazz with rap in hopes that the jazz audience would become more open-minded for hip-hop. And I hope that young new rap artists will see that freestyling is basically the same as improvisation in jazz and they will learn about jazz history and work that into their music.”
In her storied career, Laroo has played with jazz greats such as Rosa King, Hans Dulfer, Candy Dulfer, Wynton Marsalis, Toots Thielemans, Roy Hargrove, Teddy Edwards, Maceo Parker, and Marcus Miller. She has also shared the stage with the South African Hugh Masekela, the group Sierra Maestra of Cuba and the Dutch-Surinamese band Fra Fra Sound. She's done dance crossovers with 100% Isis, Ken Ishi, and Ronald Molendijk. Laroo has released eight CDs, an LP and a DVD on her own label and has won several prizes, including the Indian peace prize "Karmaveer Puraskaar" in 2010.
“One of my major influences, beyond the album and my music in general, is my big hero and life-example Miles Davis, who wasn't afraid of exploring and connecting new musical developments and integrating them into his music.”
The album’s lead track “From Scratch” was written to honor Miles Davis, the infamous chameleon of jazz styles and fusions from bebop to electronica hybrid. This number takes off, with a special hail to his last album Doo-Bop and its perching upon hip hop and beat creators. Saskia trots out her muted trumpet parallel to rapper Tang Sauce’s free-styled spits, bolstered by Laroo’s own alter-ego-ed upright pulse bearing out that vital bebop jazz and hip hop kinship. Warren Byrd’s keyboard work also butters the blend.
“It's the feeling of and the story behind his playing,” Says Laroo of her admiration for Davis. “ I love to tell stories when I play and take an audience temporarily to another world.
Those other worlds to which Laroo transports listeners are reflective of the myriad of world musical influences that color her compositions, such as “Prepare & Beware". Laroo’s wry trumpet, funky guitars countered with a sample from Hindi singer Sushmitha Patlolla, over broke-funk bass and a 2-n-4 backbeat kicks off this summer-in-the-park track, switched from her originally intended pure hip hop. An April 2019 tour in Burundi hoarded the voices of female rapper Vannina Kaneza providing English and Kirundi text and slameur (aka “poetry slammer”) Serge Le Griot in French and Swahili.
Likewise, Laroo plays with her bands all over the world, from festival stages (both large and small) and prestigious concert halls to hole-in-the-wall clubs and raging dance parties. So far this year, she’s played in Thailand, Burundi, Europe, and the United States.
The European tour for Trumpets Around the World kicked off in November 2019 in Amsterdam, NL with a subsequent and ongoing U.S.tour that kicked off with a release show on November 29 at the Buttonwood Tree, Middletown, CT, US. Audiences should be ready to groove to everything from hip-hop to bossa nova and reggae, from blues to funk with a smooth salsa...and lots of jazzy trumpet.