Ab (Albert) Schaap (1950) graduated from the Rotterdam Conservatoire under tutelage of Leo van Oostrom. His main instrument is the saxophone, but he is also a gifted clarinet and flute player. Ab played in top-notch orchestras such as the Skymasters, the Metropole Orkest, and the John Clayton Big Band. He was also part of the Latin group Manteca (now Nueva Manteca) and the Rotterdam Jazz Ensemble. He is a founding member of Peter Ypma plus Eleven and The Dutch Jazz Orchestra, led by John Ruocco.
As a saxophone player and orchestra leader he worked with artists such as Bobby Shew, Slide Hampton, Frank Wess, James Moody, Clark Terry, Sarah Vaughn, Jimmy Heath, George Coleman, Cecyl Taylor, Toots Thielemans, Philip Catherine, Donald Harrison, and Tommy Smith. For most of these orchestras, Ab is or was active as a composer and arranger. Frans Elsen was his tutor in this area of expertise.
Since 1979, Ab has been a teacher for the Codarts Rotterdam Jazz Department, where he teaches the arranging course, alongside theory and ensemble courses. From 1984 until 2002, he was the regular director of the Codarts Big Band, with which he performed at the North Sea Jazz Festival multiple times and with which he toured countries such as Hungary, Singapore, Thailand, the United States, and Russia. Around the turn of the century, after the departure of Bob Brookmeyer, Ab was artistic director a.i. of the Jazz Department.
- Touring through Thailand, which resulted in a teaching position in Bangkok and arranging assignments, as well as arranging compositions by king Bhumibol for various line-ups and various CDs.
- An American tour as the director of the school big band, the highlight of which was playing at The Village Vanguard in New York, the world’s oldest jazz club in existence, on Monday night.
- A Russian tour with the school big band. Among other cities, the big band played in St. Petersburg and Moscow.
- 25 years as a member of The Dutch Jazz Orchestra, the highlight of which was recording four CDs with Billy Strayhorn material. We also played this music at the Duke Ellington Conference in Pittsburg.
- And let’s not forget the many years of teaching so many talented students now working at the top of their fields both within and outside the Netherlands.
- Publication of the book Mozart, Charlie Parker & Jazz Improvisation in 2014 (available through Amazon.com).
Why do you believe students should come to Codarts?
“Our Jazz Department is beyond comparison. The offer of courses is very broad, both in an artistic and stylistic sense, and there is much room for experimentation. And after your education, you can get straight to work. Look at the field: it’s full of musicians who studied in Rotterdam. We educate for the stage.”
What are you going to teach them?
“My strength is my (classical) background. I teach students the basics. In a way, this comprises classical music theory and classical harmonic principals, linked to jazz of course.”
How are you going to teach them?
“Most of my lessons are taught classically. The big advantage for students is that this allows them to see and hear what the others are doing. Teaching is only fun if you are interested in people. I’ve been doing this for 37 years now – no, never on autopilot! – and it is still a lot of fun.”
1992 European Jazz Composition Prize