BENDING BRASS WITH HIS BARE HANDS
Taking the impossible and making it plausible is something that has been the mantra and mettle driving one of Europe’s top soul and nu jazz musicians, Rik Mol. Music seems malleable for Mol, and his latest accomplishments and innovations prove that he can bend brass with only his bare hands.
In his youth, Rik Mol set out on a vision quest to be an innovator of jazz, to help it evolve and reach all generations. From that first day, when at the age of eight, he discovered an old, forgotten trumpet, he knew his destiny. However, the trumpet is but one of his Rik’s tools.
Combined with a unique talent and ear for innovation, Mol’s largest artistic attribute is to tap into new and exciting channels to shape the future of brass. One of those channels is Rik’s new Vlog on YouTube. “If you can dream it, do it!” he offers, and Mol took a crash-course in technology to learn how to utilize technology to reach a wider audience of fans.
Mastering his muses is a challenge that Rik Mol has always been one to take. This theme began when he was a child, attending the Concertgebouw Orchestra with his father. He was mesmerized by the maestros on stage and set out to join them – nothing would stop him. Learning the trumpet seemed only natural for Rik, he played a scale the first day he had his hands on it and moved quickly through lessons. Mol found himself, at the age of ten, on stage as a guest soloist for The Belgian Brass, then studied as part of the Young Talent Program at the prestigious Royal Conservatory in Hague, Netherlands. Rik was also blessed to have private lessons with the likes of Maurice Andre, Theo Mertens, and the legendary Wynton Marsalis.
Despite his early classical training, Mol’s natural curiosity and desire to experiment kept him open to a varied array of influences which included Earth Wind and Fire, Stevie Wonder and Miles Davis. “In my teens, I was also partial to pop music and never boxed myself into any one genre. I am eclectic by nature,” explains Rik. Mol’s meld of jazz, funk, pop and soul not only wowed audiences but helped him get in to perform with groups such as the Metropole Orchestra and the Nueva Manteca.
Within only a decade, Rik Mol morphed into a multi-award winning composer, bandleader, and producer traversing the globe. Along the way, he gathered awards such as The European Trumpet Contest, the coveted Prinses Christina Concours, as well as the Prins Bernhardfonds Culture Award. The accolades gave him the opportunity to work with other artists such as Steve Lukather, Chaka Kahn, Gregory Porter, Basement Jaxx and Jamiroquai’s Derrick McKenzie.
Rik released his debut album in 2006, entitled, What’s on Tonight?! The award-winning album was a blend of instrumental and smooth jazz that critics loved, and it received airplay around the world. Funk on Me was Rik’s sophomore release featuring vocals by British soul singer Nate James. It marked the first time he showed fans his ability to transcend traditional jazz by blending it with pop, funk, and soul featuring.
In 2014, Mol teamed with soul singer Shirma Rouse to release the single, "Mr. Trumpet Man." While working as a solo artist, Rik still found time to perform with the Metropole Orchestra, which won a Grammy in 2014 for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album for their release entitled, Sylva.
2017 marked a turning point in Rik Mol’s career. “I decided to focus all my energy on my career as a solo artist,” he explains. He gave fans a preview of what to expect by releasing a instrumental single from his forthcoming album in the single, “The Resident.”
Rik’s upcoming album, Infinite Mirrors, Vol. 1 is due out in fall 2017. It will be the first in a series of new albums. The project will be released in volumes, and contain a mix of more cutting-edge songs, yet also a few fusion jazz tunes. The launch of Rik’s Vlog entitled, A Musician’s Life will accompany the release of “The Blame.” “I wanted to harness the technology to reach an untapped, worldwide audience of fans,” offers Mol. The YouTube Channel will offer glimpses behind the scenes into Rik’s musical life. The episodes will include Rik meeting with the renowned Quincy Jones and clips of Mol’s behind-the-scenes work in the studio.
All while staying humble, Rik Mol has become continually stronger as an artist and musician since his first release in 2006. His strength comes from the power to meld jazz, funk, and soul with pop music. Perhaps it is no irony that Rik has titled his new project “Infinite Mirrors” since he seems able to reflect and refract sound into many things anew – just as a prism does light. After all, for the last decade, we’ve seen Rik Mol bend brass music into many new shapes and sounds.
Text by David Erik