BIRD REPRESENTS A LONG ROTTERDAM TRADITION OF BLACK MUSIC, HIDDEN UNDERNEATH A FORMER TRAIN STATION.
The port city of Rotterdam is a crossroad of people, cultures and musical styles. The city’s long tradition of Black music started with the arrival of immigrants from the former Dutch colonies in the fifties and sixties; rooting the city’s affinity with funk, jazz and soul.
BIRDs home, the iconic old train station ‘Hofplein’, played an important role in the nurturing of Black music and culture in Rotterdam in the late sixties. At that time it was a vibrant entertainment area which was particularly popular among the first-generation Surinamese migrants.
In the eighties, Rotterdam had a leading role in the development of Dutch hip-hop, being labeled by many insiders as the hip-hop capital of the Netherlands. BIRD continues this musical tradition, but also reflects the new Rotterdam; a city that has changed rapidly in recent years. Hip-hop has been transformed from street culture into pop culture and dictates cultural expression from the urban climate on to the political arena.
On the waves of these developments, BIRD has become the dreamed musical hotspot of every multicultural city. BIRD started in 2011 as a stage with jazz and hip-hop as key core values. A venue with diversity in its genes where the artistic urge to move forward is founded on the traditions from which contemporary music genres arise. A progressive home for black music and a stage for many big and small music names such as Roy Ayers, Robert Glasper, Theo Parrish, Henry Wu and Lefto.
This year (2021) BIRD celebrates its 10th anniversary. All the more reason to release a vinyl compilation in which the musical profile of the venue is summed up as best as possible by the artistic brains Philip Powel and Guido van Dieren Thererfor the Dutch artists on this compilation reflect this vision and ideology that effortlessly bridges hip-hop, jazz and related genres. Anything goes!
Philip Powel is the founder of BIRD.
Born in Rotterdam in the seventies to a Surinamese father and a Dutch mother, my eclectic musical approach was shaped by the two cultures and the record collection of my parents. Our family home was filled with sounds ranging from Sam Cooke to Mahalia Jackson and from The Wailers to Kool and the Gang. This kickstarted my love for (seventies) soul music.
The eighties and nineties are an essential part of my personal music development. These years are the foundation for my love for hip-hop, guitar, and house music. These crossroad in time resulted in a very diverse musical taste and a genre-free urge for quality music. Both BIRD and Hummingird Archives springs from this origin, in which various genres intertwine, but always revolve around a central theme: soul.
While compiling Hummingbird Archives, I focused on different sounds, feelings and energies. My love for great songwriting is present in the beautiful songs 'Over' by Rotterdam based vocalist Sophia in collaboration with Cloud Orchestra, the bouncy 'Man up and Create' by Melle and Jutte and the atmospheric ‘Freedom’ by Dutch producer Kijk Een Ster (and Gregg Green’s vocals).
Both sides start gradually with Ranie Ribeiro’s atmospheric ‘Morning Meditations’, the beautiful jazz of ‘Naomi's Dance’ and the peacefull jazz of 'Lemniscate' by saxophonist Maarten Hogenhuis (who has played in BIRD several times with his band BRUUT!). The record pushes into more vivid realms with Benny Sings’ soulful beats on ‘Hold that’ and the ecstatic 'Naked' by the Dutch duo Kraak en Smaak. BIRD wouldn’t be BIRD without some dance floor energy. To get you all moving, I brought in Leroy Rey’s amazing edit of Monsieur Dubois 'Amuse' and the Scallymatic Orchestra’s bubbling jazz track 'Autumn Forest Song'.
Guido van Dieren has been BIRDs programmer from day one.
Yo! MTV Raps and Dutch Masters, a famous Dutch radio show in the nineties, were my first steps to get seriously addicted to music. More specifically: the culture and lifestyle of hip-hop. During this period my home was filled with sounds from the Pharcyde, KRS-one, A Tribe Called Quest and Grand Puba. Hungry for more, I soon discovered dj’s like KC The Funkaholic and Gilles Peterson, who exposed me to a broader soulful spectrum which included afro-beat, disco, house, nu jazz and Brazilian music. Gradually, my initial love for hip-hop grew into a love of soulful music of all kinds. This eventually led to me organizing the infamous Strange Fruit and 360 Degrees in Rotterdam. I’ve hosted some unforgettable nights with guests like Benji B, Flying Lotus, Floating Points and Theo Parrish.
I have been music programmer for BIRD since its opening in 2011. My taste in warm and soulful music bleeds into the programming of BIRD, which varies from hiphop, jazz and afro-beat to electronic music. With BIRD, we always aim to look towards to the future without forgetting the music of the past.
The tracks on this compilation reflect my personal taste. Starting with the downtempo jazzy electronics of Jesse Koolhaas, the compilation builds up like a DJ-set. From here on we speed up up the tempo of the groove with the Dilla-like beats of Rotterdam’s finest jazz formation Greyheads, via the future R&B of Hvnly and the alternative R&B of Gino-Cochise to the feelgood vibes by Planty Herbs. Side two showcases my love for all things broken, up-tempo and dancefloor driven. It starts with the abstract electronic sounds of Niels Broos and develops into a tropical Amsterdam dancefloor with Bruxas. Duke Hugh, representing Groningen and having played BIRD himself a few times, comes in with the amazing ‘Greenleaf’. Hummingbird Archives ends with two extremely talented Rotterdam natives: Kofi The Unknown and Sykes. Where Kofi’s ‘Babinga Drums’ sounds like something that could have come straight from the Detroit/West-London broken beats family, Sykes’ ‘Jazz’ closes the compilation in a downtempo manner. It’s a closing track that wonderfully embodies BIRDs 10 years of being a jazz orientated venue.