Born in Breda (The Netherlands) in 1970 Rik was raised in a jazz-minded city. During his youth, the city had a famous jazz festival and a flourishing club where all the great national and international players passed by. As a kid, he had the opportunity to hear among others, Doc Cheatam, Al Cohn, Slim Gaillard, Horace Parlan, and Mark Murphy. He started his musical career by first learning clarinet. He switched to alto saxophone in his late teens. After studying Medicine for two years he went to the Royal Conservatory in The Hague in 1992.
Rik is one of the few Dutch baritone saxophonists who dedicated himself completely to the baritone only. His playing is rooted in that of Harry Carney, Charlie Parker, and Pepper Adams.
In 1999 he won the Japanese Kobe Jazz Award and toured in Japan as a soloist twice. In The Netherlands, his quartet toured with the legendary tenor saxophonist Teddy Edwards. During this period Rik joined, among other bands, Peter Ypma & his Eleven and the Rotterdam Jazz Orchestra. He recorded with his baritone-Hammond quartet two cd's: Swingmatism and Live Update. After this quartet, Rik performed with his saxophone-band The Reeds which resulted in the cd ReSerge (2007), a tribute to the baritone legend Serge Chaloff.
Baritone saxophonists Ronnie Cuber, Jan Menu, and Rik van den Bergh performed together with the trio of Rein de Graaff at the Bimhuis Amsterdam in 2013. This was the inspiration for another three-baritone-band: Baritone Blow Up! Together with the Danish baritone Niels Oldin, this group toured through Denmark in 2015 and 2017. The third baritone saxophonist was the multiple-time Down Beat winner Gary Smulyan, who had a strong influence on Rik’s playing.
At this moment Rik has a quintet with Dutch trombone player Bart van Lier (CD: HIGH SLIDE LOW BLOW ) and he is part of the Peter Beets/Henk Meutgeert New Jazz Orchestra. He has been a faculty member of Codarts (Conservatory of Rotterdam) since 2013.
His latest recording IS THAT SO? (Zennez Records, 2021) is a hommage to the music of composer, pianist and arranger Duke Pearson.
photo Govert Driessen