Honing had his first major success in 1996 with his album Star Tracks, which comprised recordings of pop songs as an alternative to the American Songbook. The album became a hit in the Netherlands and Germany, and gained significant notice in the UK as well. The album contains songs by Abba and The Police among others. Honing uses their material as a basis for improvisation; he gladly points out that jazz musicians of previous generations were doing exactly the same. The album Sequel that Honing records in 1999 is in the same vein, using material by Björk, Blondie and others.
The CD Playing (1998) finds Honing performing alongside veteran pianist Misha Mengelberg in twelve freely improvised tracks. Two years later the project gets a sequel at the North Sea Jazz Festival, with cellist Ernst Reijseger as third improviser. The recordings find their way onto the CD Lively (2000).
In 2001, Honing met Paul Bley and recorded the album Seven with Bley on piano, Gary Peacock on bass and Paul Motian ondrums. This album garnered Honing the Dutch Edison Award in 2002. In The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings (Eighth Edition) this CD was recognized with four (out of five) stars.
Memory Lane is recorded by Honing in 2002, together with members of the Amsterdam based Concertgebouw Orchestra. It is his first project with musicians from the world of classical music.
In addition to his activities in acoustic and classical music, in 2005 Honing starts a new electric band, Wired Paradise. It features Tony Overwater (on bass guitar) and Joost Lijbaart plus the German guitarist Frank Möbus, best known for his work with the trio Der Rote Bereich.
The saxophonist enters into a new classical collaboration with the Metropole Orchestra in 2006. With conductor Vince Mendoza at the rostrum he records the CD Symphonic with this orchestra. Just like he considers contemporary pop music to be the continuation of the Great American Songbook, Honing sees a parallel between that particular song form and Franz Schubert's lieder. He therefore decides to record a full instrumental version of Schubert's song cycle Winterreise, accompanied by the classical pianist Nora Mulder (2007). He also uses Winterreise as the title for a special concert evening with guests which the saxophonist organizes every year on December 29 at the Amsterdam Paradiso.
In 2009 Honing forms an acoustic band with a chordal instrument for the first time! In his Acoustic Quartet Wolfert Brederode is the pianist, Ruben Samama on double bass, and Joost Lijbaart once again the drummer. That same year Honing also invites dance producer Floris Klinkert for a collaboration, resulting in the CD Phase Five. On this album Floris makes use of samples from the saxophonist's entire discography to produce new compositions. The resulting songs are sung by pop singers like Leine, Sarah Bettens (known of the band K's Choice) and Lilian Vieira (of the band Zuco 103); in addition Honing himself is featured as a soloist. January 2012 Yuri Honing won the Dutch Boy Edgar Prijs.
Other career highlights