‘The head versus the heart’ is the central theme of Beneath The Surface. Each of the songs colours a different emotion, together forming a full palette. This is Bart Wirtz’s most personal album yet. Beneath The Surface is about what’s on the surface as well as what lies beneath it. Some emotions, such as personal doubt and insecurity, are clear, but others remain vague and elusive. To get a handle on them, they first have to be expressed! Wirtz reflects on the past, gives a vision for the future and seizes the ‘now’. “At this point in my life I feel it is time for this album.”

 With his fourth solo studio album, the alto saxophonist takes a whole new direction. The blend of hip-hop, rock, jazz and funk is a departure from the sound of his earlier work. The addition of electronics and effects creates the illusion that some sounds and rhythms are computer-generated, though in actuality they are created by real instruments distorted by effects. The album focuses less on Wirtz’s own saxophone playing and more on the deeper need to make beautiful music. It’s not ‘world championship saxophone’. “I hope the music appeals to people who are open to different styles and have a feel for vibe and energy.”

 Beneath The Surface is the first album on Wirtz’s own label iDreamer Records (distribution: Coast to Coast). Wirtz composed most of the music himself and also managed the production. In addition to saxophone, he also incorporates the varitone, organelle, flute, percussion, omnichord and vocals. The band features Emiel van Rijthoven (Sensuàl) on keyboard, Kasper Kalf (Hans Teeuwen, Pete Philly & Perquisite) on bass and Niek de Bruijn on drums. Frank Wienk (also known as Binkbeats) provides percussion, vocals, synths & sounds. There are guest performances by the British rapper/saxofonist Soweto Kinch, singers Ntjam Rosie and Ai Ming Oei, Lucas Meijers on guitar, Mete Erker on bass clarinet and Louk Boudesteijn on trombone.

The basis for the album was recorded in Belgium at the famous Jet Studio Brussel. The mixing was done by Richard Ojijo (Cody Chestnutt, Selah Sue), working in Germany; the master was made by Zlaya Loud! (Motorpsyho, Jagga Jazzist, The Gathering, Benjamin Herman, The New Cool Collective, Marike Jager, Nynke Laverman, Reinier Baas, Joris Roelofs).


In 2012 the New York recording of the album iDreamer (with Nicholas Payton and others) moved the career of alto saxophonist Bart Wirtz into high gear. It earned him the 2012 Edison Jazzism prize. The track Evolution of the Innocent landed on a Spotify playlist and was streamed more than 3 million times. This album was followed by Interview (2014) in which Wirtz collaborated with the American trumpeter Sean Jones, seamlessly bringing together musical influences.

Saxophonist Bart Wirtz has won a number of jazz prizes, including the Erasmus Jazz Prize, the Leiden Jazz Award and the Breda Jazz Prize, not to mention the Edison Jazzism Public Prize for his album iDreamer. Bart Wirtz has been part of the Artvark Saxophone Quartet for more than 10 years. He plays in the New Rotterdam Jazz Orchestra and was co-founder and artistic leader of Monsieur Dubois and The Young Sinatras (later The Very Next).