Tineke Postma: Keeping Honest in Holland
In her informal jazz education, Postma "started off as a little kid listening to Wayne Shorter, Miles Davis and Julian "Cannonball" Adderley." It was years later, in her 20s, that she started seeing U.S. jazzmen live when she moved to Amsterdam and started going to the North Sea Jazz Festival. In her hometown area, and later in Amsterdam, there were opportunities to both hear and play jazz.
Tineke Postma (center), with Brad Mehldau (left) and Fleurine
Postma switched from flute to sax at age 10, and was also studying piano. "My favorite player was definitely Cannonball Adderley. I was listening to a lot of Dexter Gordon. I had this CD of him playing ballads. I was technically not yet so skillful, so those songs, those ballads, were accessible for me in a way. I could play along with them. Not perfectly, but it was easier than others ... Even on the flute, I always felt the need to play along with the music I was hearing. I was always trying to fetch the music by ear and play along with it."
With Adderley, what appealed to her was "his spirit and beautiful tone and the bright recordings. They were very beautiful to me. Listening to Charlie Parker was great as well, but the recording quality was maybe not always that great. As I kid, I had more trouble feeling much for (Parker). That came a couple of years later."
Postma was in the band programs in high school and decided to pursue music at the next level. "The idea of going to a conservatory made me very happy. I was very excited about that. I guess the love for music was very strong. Once I was studying at the conservatory (first in Hilversum, then Groningen, and eventually Conservatory of Amsterdam), I thought that was going to be my profession. But of course, during school I also had to form an idea of how that was going to be." She had done some gigs in the north of Holland before moving to Amsterdam, and but most of that occurred in Amsterdam while at conservatory. That was part of the learning process.
"There were playing opportunities," she notes, "but during my conservatory years I also played a lot of pop music to support my studies and everything. So the real jazz gigs, and playing with my group and as a guest, started a couple years later." She came on scholarship to study at the Manhattan School of Music in New York, in 2002. Among her instructors were Dick Oatts, Dave Liebman and Chris Potter.
She was only in New York for about half of a year, working in an exchange program with the Conservatory of Amsterdam. "I was very busy just studying and being part of the program," she says of schooling in Manhattan. "The gigging came later." But it was during her master's degree in New York that she started composing. She won a Sisters in Jazz Award (at the time, part of the International Association for Jazz Education).
At an IAJE conference, she ran into representatives of a Dutch label, Munich Records. "The A&R manager was very convinced he wanted to work with me. He heard me playing in Los Angeles," explains Postma. "From that moment on, I started recording my music." Her debut CD, First Avenue (Munich), was released in 2003, right after she earned her master's degree.
Terri Lyne Carrington, whom Postma met at IAJE, wrote some liner notes for that first album. "Two years later, I asked Terri Lyne to play on my second CD, For the Rhythm (215 Music/Munich Records, 2005). Then she asked me to go on tour with her group with James Genus and Mitchel Forman and Dianne Reeves and Nancy Wilson. We played at Carnegie Hall and Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C." Her career was off and running. "It went pretty fast. I got into the scene pretty fast. So that was great."
Postma has won numerous Dutch and French jazz awards. It's likely she will need to have more room on her mantle as her career grows. But for the saxophonist, she is still, and always, learning. "I am growing much more in it," she says of her career. "Every day, because of beautiful experiences in music ... playing with great musicians such as Terri Lyne Carrington and Esperanza Spalding and my own Dutch quartet, and recording and getting great response and stuffthat stimulates me to go on. But actually, music has always been very important to me and it felt very natural."
With a noted booking firm behind her, International Music Network (Wayne Shorter, Brad Mehldau, Dianne Reeves), she hopes to do a lot more U.S. dates to go with her extensive overseas bookings. She is also part of the Mosaic Project, with Carrington, a group that made a recording last year that will be released before long. It's an all- female project with Spalding, Allen, Helen Sung, Ingrid Jensen, Dianne Reeves, Cassandra Wilson and Dee Dee Bridgewater.