Penguins Too plays Crime

3 songs from the album “Crime” by Penguins Too. Recorded for the album at ArtEZ University of the Arts, November 11, 2017. The tunes in this clip are: Intimamente (composed by Ennio Morricone, for the teevee series La Piovra), Duke Ellington’s Anatomy of a Murder and Frédéric Chopin’s Prelude No. 20 Op. 28. The other tunes on the album include Tuyo (composed by Rodrigo Amarante for the teevee series Narcos), 4 tracks from the film The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (composer David Shire), Misha Mengelberg’s A Bit Nervous and Penguins Too’s originals Crime One to Five.

Frank Nielander, saxophone.
Michiel Braam, piano.

More info:

Liner Notes of the album:


My first ever school trip took me to the Amsterdam Zoo where they showed us two penguins, looking utterly miserable standing at the edge of a small muddy pool which was supposed to resemble Antarctica.

Not much later, a cartoon appeared in the local Amsterdam newspaper Het Parool, starring a certain sturdy seafarer named captain Rob and his loyal dog Skip. One of their exciting adventures was their encounter with professor Lupardi and his evil assistant Yoto, who tried to conquer the world using their army of mind-controlled penguins with antennas on their little heads. Fortunately, Rob and Skip manage to turn the tide. With tears in their eyes, they wave goodbye to the freed penguins who happily hop back to the Antarctic.

Years later, people heard rumours about “two penguins in the desert”. This time it concerned an album produced by Michiel Braam and Frank Nielander, two true musicians from Nijmegen, the Netherlands. No less than thirteen jazz standards got the treatment they deserved. Screaming for an encore which never happened for reasons experts can only guess.

Now, exactly 24 years later under the name Penguins Too, Braam & Nielander surprise friend and foe once again with a brand new album called Crime. A very suitable title, for crime and jazz have a lot in common. Think of creativity, improvisational skills and a solid disregard for rules.

Crime contains music from original crime movies and series with a special emphasis on The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, a 1974 movie about the hijacking of a New York subway train. Four songs from this movie are thoroughly tackled by Penguins Too, interrupted by short improvisations called Crime One-Five which lead to other songs like Tuyo from the Netflix series Narcos and even a Chopin prelude. All tracks are linked to one another, forming a kind of suite. Thus, ultimately, breaking the rules once more.

Using only piano and sax (and violin!), it’s no small accomplishment that Penguins Too manage to compete against the oftentimes bombastic original compositions on screen, played by entire symphonic orchestras. Looks like real penguins don’t give a damn about such small matters.

Hans Dulfer