The powerhouse bassist, composer and educator Joris Teepe relishes teaching as much as he does performing.
For nine years, Teepe, 46, has been the bass instructor -- as well as a teacher of theory and an ensemble coach -- at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center's acclaimed Wachovia Jazz for Teens program, which runs each September through June. He's also director of jazz studies at the Prince Claus Conservatoire in Groningen, the Netherlands. There, he founded and runs New York Comes to Groningen, a degree program based on Jazz for Teens. He also teaches bass at Queens College in New York.
"I think teaching and performing have a lot of similarities," says Teepe (whose name is pronounced Your-ISS TAPE-ah), who was born in Den Haag, the Netherlands, and makes his home in Englewood. "When you play, you try to give the audience something. When you teach, you try to show the beauty of music."
Teepe, who has performed and recorded as a leader and with such notables as saxophonists Don Braden, Chris Potters and Eric Alexander, and trumpeters Tom Harrell and Valery Ponomarev, leads his big band Friday night at Cecil's in West Orange and Saturday at the Puffin Cultural Forum in Teaneck.
In an interesting twist of fate, Teepe's big band came out of his ties to education. As a result of his being head of the program at the Prince Claus Conservatoire, he was commissioned to write a suite for jazz quartet and orchestra for the nearby North Netherlands Symphony Orchestra.
At the 2007 debut of that work in Groningen, a listener affiliated with the National Radio Big Band in Bucharest, Romania, was moved. Another commission resulted, this time for a refashioning of Teepe's suite for that Romanian big band. The work debuted in Bucharest in April 2008.
"I had to rearrange all that music in about a month," says Teepe. "It was a lot of work, but I managed to do it, and the performance was really cool."
Those newly arranged pieces became the core repertoire of Teepe's new big-band album, "We Take No Prisoners." The album was recorded in August 2008 at Twinz Studio in River Edge and is due out Sept. 4 on Challenge Records. Among the vital pieces is "Flight 643," which shifts moods and meters and contains imaginative, spirited writing, and "The Princess and the Monster," a fairy tale set to music with a succulent bass solo and shimmering ensemble passages, some of which are deeply melodic. The album is stuffed with solid solos.
When he offers his distinctive material this weekend at Cecil's, Teepe will be joined by a gathering of top New Jersey and New York players, many of whom appear on the new album. On hand will be trumpeters Alex Norris, Josh Evans, John Eckert and Joe Magnarelli; saxophonists Mark Gross, Steve Slagle, Don Braden, Adam Kolker and Jason Marshall; trombonists Noah Bless, Dion Tucker, Stafford Hunter and Earl McIntyre; pianist Jon Davis; guitarist Bruce Arnold; and drummer Willard Dyson.
"These guys are great," he says. "I've known them for years. These are people I can trust, and with this music, a lot of trust is needed, because there's a lot of stuff that happens that's not written on paper."