Inventions & Variations


For me, these recordings are a dream come true. They represent the culmination of almost five decades of exploring, playing, performing, contemplating, constructing, deconstructing, searching, researching, reflecting, engaging in conversations, jamming, sense-mak- ing, traveling, instructing, sharing, dreaming and being.

For a long time I desired to allow myself full immersion in this genuine kind of improvi- sational exploration with its invitation to let go of habitual patterns and grooves and to resonate more deeply with the music and her deep generative source; a source that expresses itself in silence and sound so infinitely mysterious.

Recording this music has been an invitation to improvise on a tightrope, letting go of preconceived design and trained artistic conceptualisations and has been a journey to the edge of technique and control with a strong refusal to repeat myself and an keen interest in taking risk and explore unknown territory.


As an underlying framework I choose to use the printed keyboard scores of Johann Sebastian Bach. A pile of books with his iconic music has been on my grand piano for many years and enriched my life hugely.

With an enormous sense of awe, gratitude and respect for the depth and genius of the original text I felt inspired to be using this material in a different way and I became cu- rious to know how I could break away from the dogmatic or limiting dominant concepts about its performance, and opening up to its many playful creative possibilities. I started to enter the unknown and explore various ways in which I could interpret texts more freely, use more imagination, connect with the material in a more personal, intuitive and spontaneous way, and to play with it and have fun with it. I explored ways to filter Bach’s 18th century texts through the lens of an 21st century im- provising jazz pianist with a passion for – and training in – classical, jazz, pop and world music.

During the recording process I arranged all my Bach books around me, some on the pi- ano and some on the floor, some far, some near. Wherever my eyes fell on Bach’s texts I found inspiring symbols to play with; notes, phrases, themes, colours, chords, letters, numbers, cadenzas, structures, rhythms, patterns, shapes, ideas, pages turned upside down, patterns to read backwards and empty white space between the notes. Some of these themes I interpreted more strict but mostly I entertained their suggestive possibilities quite freely. I have labelled those improvisations that are closer to the text and score as ‘Variations’ and those improvisations that emerged more spontaneously and are more loosely coupled with the original symbols as ‘Inventions’.


I am very grateful to Spirit of Turtle director Bert van der Wolf. His friendship, great skill and artistic recording philosophy made it possible to record this music under the most professional and ideal circumstances. He is a magician who can surpass time and space. When I listen to Bert’s high quality recordings the previously recorded room becomes my

experiential space in the present moment. The previously recorded sound becomes alive in my room as if it is happening right there. For me, he is the secret key keeper of an invisible audio time machine.

Bert and I spent three days connecting, improvising, and sharing in the warm atmosphere and rich acoustics of the Lutheran Church in the city of Haarlem in The Netherlands. This stimulating acoustic environment has been superbly caught in these recordings which makes it possible for the listener to have a direct and intimate experience of the creative process as if one is actually present in the church during the recordings. This adds very much to the sensation of the energetic and acous- tic ‘aliveness’ one can get while listening to this CD.

For these recordings I brought my own 1925 Steinway Grand Piano to the church. This instrument never fails to guide me on my creative explorations and has become an inspiring teacher and critical friend. This instrument has a rich history. At first the Steinway belonged to Everhard van Beijnum, brother of Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra conductor Eduard van Beijnum. My grandmother, who was a classical pianist, was taught by Everhard at the Conservatory on this Steinway piano which she obtained at a later stage from his inheritance in 1957. And when my grand- mother passed away the Steinway came to me. That is how I became the third temporary caretaker and user of the beautiful instrument that you can listen to in such a special way on this album.


My journey in life has brought me to the point where I can start connecting being an improvising musician with my medita- tion practice and with facilitating creative social interventions for groups and leaders in transformative development processes. To me, all three contexts seem to deal with the dynamic process of making sense of reality as we experience it and all three contexts deal with constructing meaning from the interpretation of symbolic representations that we design collaboratively; a shared dynamic process that co-emerges from a deep foundation that is in origin and source the nameless, formless, inexpressible silent

emptiness that encompasses all and comes prior to everything and nothing. This theme has provided me for many years with an enriching horizon to travel closer to and is in essence an underlying theme of this CD.

I notice that people in our times are searching for new stories to help them to give meaning and direction to their lives and to the fast changing circumstances in a better, more just, loving and sustainable way. With these recordings I wish to offer a social paradigm and present this music as an illustration of the creative process in which old texts with all their richness, value and quality can effectively connect with, and contribute to the construction of, better narratives with richer plots. This suggestion can inspire us in dis- covering fresh perspectives, in finding new ways for interpretation, and in making sense out of our daily experience, assisting us in our search for a good, sustainable and just life in connection to ourselves, each other and our environment. These improvisations can serve as an analogy for how we can creatively connect the pre-composed orchestrated with the improvised ‘Jazz’ of life to which we are continuously being invited, and which is a

‘Jazz’ that encompasses and integrates both the sorrowful blues and the joyful swing of Jazz and life.

Thank you

I am so very grateful to be given the opportunity to record my improvisations in this inspiring ambience with its superb recording conditions and to bring new music out there to the listeners. Thank you for your interest in my sonic improvisational snapshots and explorations at this moment in life.

Marc van Roon, September 2016

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