Robin Verheyen first started lessons on the saxophone at the age of 12, winner of the Django d’Or at the age of 25, member of various bands and head of the Robin Verheyen Int. Quartet, with world-class musicians Bill Carrothers, Nicholas Thys, and Dré Pallemaerts and the Robin Verheyen NY Quartet with top names in the NY scene trumpeter Ralph Alessi, bassist Thomas Morgan, and drummer Jeff Davis.
He has called a variety of cities his home (Turnhout, Amsterdam, Paris, New York). One can definitely say that Robin Verheyen has a focused approach to his career.
Born in Turnhout in 1983, Robin Verheyen first studied for three years in Belgium, then two years in the Netherlands, and one year as an honour student (“dean’s list”) at the Manhattan School of Music with Dave Liebman, Steve Slagle, Frank Vaganée, Jasper Blom, Ferdinand Povel, Dick Oatts, and John Ruocco. He ended his musical study with honours in Amsterdam.
In 2005 Verheyen moved to Paris for a year where he played in bands led by Giovanni Falzone, Remi Vignolo, Nelson Veras, and Bruno Angelini and was a member of the Belgian group Saxkartel (with Kurt Van Herck, Sara Meyer, and Tom Van Dyck).
In Paris he met the Finnish pianist Aki Rissanen with whom he’s been working since in their duo and trio with drummer Markku Ounaskari. They recorded a cd together called ‘Semplice’ that was released in 2009 on Alba Records. In 2013 they released the trio album ‘Aleatoric’ on Eclipse Music.
In 2007 Robin Verheyen moved to New York. There he has played and recorded with the Pascal Niggenkemper Trio, as well as the bands of Nicolas Letman-Burtinovic, Dan Loomis, Charnett Moffett, Jesse Stacken, Michael Bates and more. He also co-leads the band Narcissus with Flin van Hemmen, Clemens van der Feen and Jozef Dumoulin with whom he has released two cd’s for the label W.E.R.F.
In 2008 he recorded the cd ‘Andarta’ on Origin Records with Grammy award winner Roy Hargrove and the Roy Assaf/Eddy Khaimovich Quartet.
In May 2009 the French Jazzmagazine declared him one of the top 12 European saxophone players among big names like Pietro Tonolo, Christoph Lauer, Trygve Seim,…
In 2010 he received a commision by the concert hall De Bijloke in Ghent to write a 50-minute chamber music work for them. This work was premiered as part of the Jazz&Sounds Festival in November 2011 and received wide acclaim.
He has played as a sideman with Grammy Award winning artists Roy Hargrove, Maria Schneider, Branford Marsalis, NEA Jazz Master Toots Thielemans and many others like Charnett Moffett, Tom Rainey, Massimo Biolcati, Nelson Veras, Ravi Coltrane, Gerald Cleaver, Tyshawn Sorey, and Will Calhoun.
He was invited on stage several times by jazz legends Branford Marsalis and Ravi Coltrane to join their band during their performances.
While working as CC de Warande artist in residence in his hometown of Turnhout in 2006/2007, he formed his International quartet with top-level musicians. Playing with Verheyen are the American pianist Bill Carrothers , the Belgian drummer Dré Pallemaerts and the Belgian bassist Nicolas Thys. In 2007 the Robin Verheyen Quartet did their first tour and in 2008 they played at the Jazz Middelheim Festival in Antwerp, Belgium as well as at the Paris Jazz Festival and their first CD Painting Space was released on the Belgian label W.E.R.F.
In 2009 there followed Verheyen’s second release, the critically acclaimed ‘Starbound’, on the Munich-based Pirouet label.
The Belgian newspaper De Standaard called Starbound one of the top 10 releases of 2009.
All About Jazz said: ‘It’s Verheyen’s ability to find every creative possibility within a limited framework that puts Starbound over the top, and adds Verheyen to the list of reasons why jazz in the 21st century will be just fine.’
Jazztimes said about Starbound: ‘Twenty-six-year-old Belgian saxophonist Robin Verheyen displays a masterful command of his horns on his auspicious debut as a leader.’
The French magazine Jazzman a couple years ago appropriately prophesised, “You don’t know who Robin Verheyen is? That’s going to change!”
In 2012 he released the album ‘Trinity’ with his NY quartet on the label 52 creations. They presented the album at the Jazz Standard in NYC and toured in Europe playing the North Sea Jazz Festival and the Gent Jazz Festival. The current line-up of this group is Russ Johnson on trumpet, Drew Gress on bass and Jeff Davis on drums. In 2013 Robin received a grant by Chamber Music America to write the new work ‘Beyond Illuminiations’ for this band. They will premiere this work in 2014.
Since 2012 Robin has been working with pianist Marc Copland as a duo and in a quartet with Gary Peacock and Joey Baron. They performed together at the 2013 Jazz Middelheim Festival in Antwerp. They are currently planning a series of concerts in 2014.
As a composer Verheyen is currently working on a new commission for the MA Festival in Bruges that will be premiered in August of 2014. This will be a work based on music by 14th-century composer Guillaume de Machaut combined with Robin’s jazz and classical influences. It will feature Robin Verheyen and Russ Johnson as soloists next to a woodwind and a string quartet.