Eric VAN DER WESTEN was born on the 29th of August 1963 in Zierikszee, a small town in the south-west of The Netherlands.
None of his family was active in music, but he fell in love with it hearing rock albums his older brother brought home in the early seventies. He got his first guitar at age 10 and started forming his own rock bands almost immediately. Later, he switched to bass guitar.
At 19 he was introduced to the double bass, which turned out to be a turning point in his life. Having experimented with almost every kind of rock music, he turned to jazz and improvised music after hearing records of Charles MINGUS, Thelonious MONK and Miles DAVIS.
The depth and emotional range of expression he found in this music enabled him - with the guidance of his teachers Steve CLOVER, Misha MENGELBERG, Arnold DOOYEWEERD - to put all his energy into mastering his instrument and develop a personal voice in music.
He enrolled at the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam having played the double bass for only 6 months. He took extra classes with people like Miroslav VITOUS, Hein VAN DE GEYN, Gary CARR and Ray BROWN.
In 1990 he graduated while already playing professionally with Dutch jazz greats such as Willem VAN MANEN and Paul VAN KEMENADE.
Being a composer as well, he organized several groups - initially mostly MINGUS/BLEY oriented - but later more and more into modern-world-improvised music idiom.
He was granted a huge assignement to write music for the Groninger Jazzmarathon in 1992 by the Dutch Broadcasting Society NOS. After this project he worked for several festivals such as Antwerpen '93, Festival Mundial 1994. He wrote music for a South-African dance company, "Speaking with Tongues", which toured throughout Africa in 1996.
As a sideman he worked with Gary THOMAS, Kenny WHEELER, Bob MALACH, Tony LAKATOS, Jasper VAN 'T HOF, Theo JÍRGENSMANN, Norma WINSTONE, a.o.
As a leader he founded several groups: his Octet which resulted in the highly acclaimed album "A Working Dreamer"; his Double Orchestra, a 12-piece group in which an extraordinary combination of instruments gave him the chance to paint with music. Another composer showcase is the album "SIU-The Waiting", a collection of beautiful african-oriented songs.
As a co-leader of the group I.I.Q., he explores the field of impressionism in improvisation. This group released its first album in 1997 ("IIQ"). Eric is also co-leading the quartet Quadrant (CD "Quadrant - featuring Norma WINSTONE").
He also started to work as a producer for the albums "Who's Afraid" of Jeroen VAN VLIET (solo piano) and Masha BIJLSMA's "Lebo".
With Paul VAN KEMENADE, Jeroen VAN VLIET and Peter HOLLAND, he set up the record compagny STP Records, strongly linked to the yearly festival "Stranger Then Paranoa", to be able to venture into the mixing of improvised, contemporary and world music.
Eric VAN DER WESTEN was frequently associated with Belgian jazzmen, such as Richard ROUSSELET, Michel HERR, etc...
In 1992, he also invited Erwin VANN to play in his band and to record the CD "Working Dreamer" (BV Haast).
Being a bass player with a very strong sound and powerful appearance as well as being a composer delivering material for others and himself, he is a very busy musician searching for beauty, honesty and joy in music.
Eric van der Westen presents his Quadrant group
as a leader
"The Working Dreamer" (BV Haast) with Erwin VANN (sax)
"SIU- The Waiting" (STP Records)
"Music for Double Orchestra" (STP Records) "It is what it is" (EWM 75007) with Erwin VANN (sax) and DrÚ PALLEMAERTS (drs)
as a co-leader
"Quadrant - featuring Norma Winstone" (STP Records)
"IIQ" (Nom Records)
as a sideman
with Paul Van Kemenade
"Missacity" (Zon en Maan Records)
"Mo's Mood" (Challenge Records)
"Live (except) Just For The Occasion" (HLM Records)
with Jasper Van 't Hof
"Get Down" (Hill Street Records)
with Willem Van Manen's Contraband
"The Ruyter Suyte" (BV Haast)
"Boy Edgar Suite" (Eigenwijs)
with Masha Bijlsma
"Winds of Change" (Challenge Records)
"Lebo" (Lippstick records)
"Jazz Goes To Kur" (BW Records)
with Marnix Busstra
"On The Face Of It" (Via Records)
as a producer
Jeroen Van Vliet "Who's Afraid" (Kip Records)
Masha Bijlsma "Lebo" (Lippstick Records)