A fine achievement is mentioned in the curriculum vitae of Frans Elsen's: once his big band opened the very first North Sea Jazz Festival, twenty-six years ago. Not only is Elsen a gifted pianist, but he also has committed himself to teaching, writing and arranging. His first professional occupation was with Don Byas in 1952. Since then the pianist shared the limelight with famous jazz musicians like Phil Woods, Stan Getz, Art Farmer, Ben Webster and many others. His play is rooted in the bebop-tradition; he was one of the first in The Netherlands to adapt that fashion of playing. He wrote many manuals, accompanied with 'play-along-CD's' for students. His solo-album, of which Elsen will perform pieces at the festival, includes two long medleys; one of which summarises three works by composer Irving Berlin, the other is a combination of Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington.
The CD-series Jazz at the Pinehill contains solo recordings by ten famous Dutch pianists. Six of them, Jan Huydts, Karel Boehlee, Rob Madna, Frans Elsen, Rob van Bavel and Bert van den Brink, will be performing at the festival Escher Hall. Small private sessions in an old basement, turned into a studio, in Leersum were the inspiration for Jazz at the Pinehill. A select audience enjoyed the memorable performances in an intimate environment. For some pianists this was their first solo-CD recording.