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 9 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.
Later on Eric 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 Philharmony, Harbiye Istanbul etc, sometimes playing to audiences of over 50.000 people. Their collaboration ended in 2018 due to Sezen’s retirement.
In recent years Eric started to return to his initial influences like the 70’s Blues, Rock & Country and got deeply into the very old Blues & Folk of the likes of Mississippi John Hurt & Robert Johnson.
A new Quadrant version in which van der Westen emphasises on the mix of jazz, folk and americana. Compositions are spacey, lyrical and delicate with a lot of room for improvisation. The line up of Trumpet ( Joël Botma), Trombone (Efe Erdem), Violin (Yannick Hiwat) , Guitar (Aron Raams) and Acoustic Bass (Eric himself) leaves a world of sounds to be discovered. The band played their debut concert at The International Double Bass Festival 2019 in Rotterdam and opened the cultural season in Tilburg in September 2019. Currently the band is getting ready to record the 1st album which will be released in October 2021.
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, 5 horns, electric double bass-bass guitar & blues rock 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. The double vinyl “One” , released in 2019 received great reviews. It’s live also one of the most powerful cross over bands in the low countries.
His 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.
Eric joined his younger brother’s band after they worked together on the album “The Old Oak Tree”. They started doing gigs in small clubs and theaters as a duo too. The band released “Me & You” which got extremely well received. Currently they are working on a new band album and a duo album which should see the light in 2020 and 2021. Check their website for more details.
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. On Martin’s website you’ll find all the news on new projects and albums and what have you…..
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. From 2009-2017 he was the General Manager of Muzieklab Brabant; a non profit organization that develops concepts and talents in music. In 2015 he started a new business called Greenbag with 3 colleagues. This company aims to generate as much income for top creative musicians as possible by professionalizing the modus operandi 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. Currently he started giving private lessons in his hometown Tilburg again.
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