Eric was born in Zierikzee (Zeeland) in the Netherlands on August 29 1963. At the age of 10 he started to play guitar, switched to bass and as a teenager, formed his own pop bands playing hard rock and new wave in the late 70’s and early 80’s. He received first serious music education at the age of 19, after quitting his psychology study at the University, when he decided to become a professional musician. It was then that he picked up the double bass. After half a year he enrolled Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam where he graduated in 1990.
During the latter part of his study he started to play with Dutch jazz legends like Willem van Manen and Paul van Kemenade, in whose band he would remain for 14 years. In the passing of time he became a solid but creative workforce in many bands with musicians like Jasper Van ‘t Hof, Bob Malach, Kenny Wheeler a.m.o.
He developed a career as composer of modern crossover improvised music in which his band Quadrant played a pivotal role. He recorded 6 albums under his own name and numerous more as a side man. During the 90’s he took a serious interest in African music which brought him all over Africa and resulted in concerts with a wide range of musicians like Habib Koité, Louis Mhlanga, Winston Mankunku, Paul Hanmer, Minyeshu & Les Frères Guissé.
His acoustic duo with guitarist Aron Raams titled “A Traveller’s Tale” is a structural musical vehicle based on their mutual admiration for blues, folk, country and rock music. It’s music for travelling. The album “Alvin”received high positive acclaim and caused the duo to enroll an international career. In 2015 Angelo Verploegen was invited to participate on the new recording. The album “J.J.’ was released on May 28 2016 and received incredible positive reviews. The music of A Traveller’s Tale is highly accessible but of absolute top quality, rooted in Americana, Blues, Folk & Jazz. It’s melancholy, honest, simple and clear but very effective in bringing a bit of peace in your heart and mind. Most performances are done as a quartet with Ferdi Lancee – the composer of world famous songs as “Suzanne” on rhythm guitar & young musicians Joël Botma or Koen Smits on trumpet or fluegelhorn
Think of a cocktail of Charles Mingus, Led Zeppelin, John Coltrane, Deep Purple, Urban Dance Squad, Miles Davis (the electric one), John Mayer & Eric Clapton and a little bit of Pink Floyd & Peter Gabriel’s Genesis and imagine this with a large group of successful top musicians routed in contemporary jazz and pop music. Drums, 4 horns, electric double bass-bass guitar & bluesrock guitar, heavy organ, 70’s synths and Fender Rhodes plus vocals and poetry and you have a signature taste that can only be brought to you by Eric van der Westen. His roots and influences combined make this a high energy power band.
For decades Eric and Martin have been working together. Eric considers Martin Fondse the prime composer in the Netherlands who has a real sense of modern composition but never leaves the real essential basic elements of a good composition; melody, harmony and rhythm, out of sight. The depth of his music and the eclectisism has proved to be an ongoing inspiring influence on Eric’s participation in modern music. They’ve played with a.o. the Brasilian pop hero Lenine, with which they played for over 200.000 people at the Rock In Rio Festival in 2015.
In recent years Eric has dug deep into Turkish culture, playing all varieties of music with Derya Türkan, Erkan Oğur, Fahir Atakoğlu, Uğur Işik and The Yarkin Brothers. He became a member of The Sezen Aksu Acoustic Band in February 2010 and played with her all over the world in famous venues like Carnegie Hall New York, Royal Albert Hall London, Circus Stockholm, Koelner Phil harmony, Harbiye Istanbul etc, sometimes playing to audiences of over 50.000 people.
This ensemble saw the light in 2013, consisting of a mix of top musicians from Turkye; Derya Türkan, Jarrod Cagwin (USA), Bram Stadhouders (NL), plus special guests Mete Erker (NL) & Martin Fondse (NL). This ensemble lead to the project Near East Up North by Mete Erker & Martin Fondse in 2015. Projects are planned with Göksun Cavdar (Turkye) and Bela Fleck (USA)
Besides all musical efforts, Eric has always pursued a business career as well. In time he was partner in a music software development business, has his own business to set up projects and runs a Record Label EWM Music. Since 2009 he’s the General Manager of Muzieklab Brabant; a non profit organization that develops concepts and talents in music. In 2015 he started a new business with 3 colleagues under the name of Greenbag. This company aimes to generate as much income for top creative musicians as possible by professionalizing the work method of the respective artists.
As a teacher Eric has been a Double Bass and Ensemble Professor at FHK in Tilburg The Netherlands from 1992 -2001 while at the same time giving master classes and (private) lessons all over the world.