Cover album Storyteller

Press contact:

Anne-Marie Winkelman
+31 6 42161495

Storyteller – review excerpts

Leidsch Dagblad
October 2021

” Journey around the world with beautiful views ”

” The open ensemble sound, sparingly supplemented with electronic loops, allows us to enjoy the unusual sound combinations right from the start. The atmosphere is world music, the performance leans more towards improvised music. …there are many gems of interplay in all the pieces .”
Full Review (Dutch)

Noord Hollandsch Dagblad
October 2021

“The guitar and kora weave together perfectly and the combination with flute is unique.”
Full Article (Dutch)

Citizen Jazz
October 2021

” An astonishing explorative instrumentarium, beginning with “Anim”…In the beautiful “Everything is Everywhere”, all the instruments converge towards an elsewhere that remains to be imagined. A beautiful moment of escape.”
Full Review ( French)

July 2021

“A formation full of curiosity, energy and character.”
Full review (German)

Feb 2021
”Boi Akih has always had a fascination for special sounds, produced by unusual instruments.”
“Brouwer’s compositions form folkish frameworks that leave a lot of room for beautiful sound nuances in the ensemble playing. Boi Akih’s music is timeless and enchanting”.
Full review (Dutch)

Heaven Magazine

Feb 2021
“Boi Akih have been playing together for 22 years and they treated us to a phenomenal concert, …combining sublime instrumental interaction with Akihary’s vocal beauty and emotion.”
“High-quality music that despite its mostly light tone is not lightweight, and precisely because of that can withstand a lot of spins without becoming tiresome”
Full review (Dutch)

All About Jazz

Feb 2021
“Storyteller is a wonderfully resonant blend of cultures and textures which hails traditions and innovations alike. Akihary and Brouwer have always shown deep respect for tradition but know, too, that without evolution there is stagnation. Above all, however, the music is a tale of ingenuity, loss, resilience and, ultimately, of triumph.”
Full review


Jan 2021
“..balance, daring, new musical insights and an intriguing mix of composed and, especially, improvised music.”

“Her scats are unpredictable, brimming with maturity and confronting within the concept that Boi Akih has developed. In the piece Imaginary Journey she builds an impressive duo with Niels Brouwer, who in turn, with his completely individual guitar sound, lifts the quartet to a higher plane.”

“…composition(s). They are all by Niels Brouwer. Monica Akihary is responsible for the lyrics, which are also of top quality and given an extra boost by their addition to the CD booklet. Boi Akih displays sophisticated craftsmanship down to the smallest details, outshining by far top Dutch jazz and improvisation ensembles.
Full review (Dutch)

Salt Peanuts

Dec 2020
“Storyteller” is another great album from Boi Akih, and if you get the opportunity to hear the two, three or the whole “hurven” (band) live nearby, sometime after corona has left us,
then you should grab the chance. I can guarantee you a delightful concert.
Full review (Norwegian)

Music Frames

Dec 2020
“Released right at the end of 2020, Boi Akih’s newest album Storyteller could just sneak in as the best album of this year, or already be a contender for the most innovative CD of 2021.”

“Boi Akih keeps the line-up small and intimate, resulting in music that excels in ‘maximum effect with minimum resources.’

“Storyteller is replete with musical tales that are exciting and emotionally charged, but also enchanting, theatrical, dignified and even solemn. Ten world stories brought together on an imaginative CD, with a sumptuous range of music that will easily last you a whole year!”
Full review


Dec 2020
Full review (Dutch)

Maluku Post (RI)
Dec 2020
“New Album Storyteller, Boi Akih moves again”
Full review (Bahasa Indonesia)

Previous reviews

From and to Infinity

Kompas (RI)
Nov 2019

Full review (Bahasa Indonesia)

Boi Akih duo

Freie Klänge
Jan 2018
Beide Musiker sind im Konzert so harmonisch aufeinander eingespielt, dass es keine Rolle spielt, wer da eigentlich wen begleitet. Mal ist es Monica Akihary, die eine Melodie zu singen beginnt, in die Niels Brouwers Gitarre einstimmt. Mal begleitet sie dann seine Gitarrenmelodie stimmlich”.
Full review (German)

Holland Festival 2017 – Controlling the Swing

Mixed World Music – Bas Springer
One of the highlights of the jubilee edition was the world premiere of Controlling The Swing by the formation Boi Akih, as part of ‘A Night in Indonesia’ on June 16 in Paradiso Amsterdam. This new composition of guitarist Niels Brouwer was performed by the duo Boi Akih with Ryoko Imai (Marimba, Percussion), Tobias Klein (bass clarinet, contra bass clarinet) and guest musicians from Indonesia, including the Moluccan (Ambon City) poet and peace activist Rudi Fofid.

Full dedication
The relationship between love and hatred is central to Controlling The Swing. Impressively, traditional and contemporary music, acoustic and electronic, melted together in the packed Small Hall of Paradiso, where the sweat beaded on the backs of the visitors, it was that warm. Rarely have I heard Monica Akihary sing so well – very clean and with complete dedication. Her partner Niels Brouwer and the other accompanists brought out the best in each other. The thunderous applause afterwards was completely justified.

Full review (Dutch)

Liquid Songs

Concerto ****(AT)
Jan 2017
“Die niederländische Sängerin mit Molukkischer Herkunft, Monica Akihary, und ihr Mann, der Gitarrist & Komponist Niels Brouwer bilden das zentrales Duo van Boi Akih, die für ihre neue Aufnahme “Liquid Songs” mit der Japanerin Ryoko Imai ( Marimbaphone, Reyong und Perkussion) und dem Saarbrückener, in Amsterdam lebenden Tobias Klein (Bassklarinette/Kontrabassklarinette) ein Quartet der besonderen Art geformt haben. Weltmusikalische elemente treffen auf neue Musik, freie Improvisation, Klanggebilde und klassische Spielweisen. Die unterschiedlichen (Musik)kulturen und persönlichen Wurzeln tragen wie eine Vielzahl an fein abgemischten Gewürzen zum anregenden Duft und geschmack der “Liquid Songs” in hohem Ausmaß bei. Monica Akihary, die neben der vom gesammten Quartett stammenden Komposition “ Déjà Vu” auch die Lyrics schrieb, wandelt zwischen gesungen Textteilen und Improvisationen, die sich bisweilen auch völlig freie experimentelle Felder begeben und  “Liquid Songs” zu einem vielfarbigen außergewöhnlichen Fundstück der besonderen Art im Grenzbereich der musikalischen Genres machen”.

Haarlems Dagblad (NL)
“ Liquid Songs, music that is fluid and constantly moving. That applies to more than just the notes that are played. It also reflects how society, our culture and identity continue to renew themselves and to adapt to circumstances. Boi Akih’s music is as topical as music can be’.
full review (Dutch)

Circles in a Square Society – on tour

Dagasiven (NO)
“And there we were, half way at a festival, where…. David Liebman in the company of
French Andy Emler Trio was probably a kick, as well as Boi Akih, Dutch trio with Monica Akihary as magnificent vocals”.

Vossa Jazz (NO)
“Those who had expected the standard jazz was probably somewhat surprised at Boi Akih started opening number. The voice of Monica Akihary is anything but dull. She is like a musical chameleon. It is seldom one sees a voice being twisted and contorted in so many directions and gives a so varied expressions that Akihary showed us tonight. Ordinarily the band consists of Akihary and her guitarist husband Niels Brouwer, but tonight they brought Vasco Trilla on drums and Wolter Wierbos on trombone. This composition was artistic!
Music miraculously expression between folk, contemporary and surprising improvisation with roots from around the world. It was intense, challenging, insistent, noisy, pulsating, rough – all at once. In the subtle interpretation of Crosby and Nash ‘s Guinnevere mood took a new direction. Here began the expression of the known and safe, before a rebuilt and modified structure until they received new life. The musical ceiling was high in the full set Festsalen this Saturday evening”.

Jazzchronicles (CA)
“When the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival announced its lineup in late winter I dubbed it the Year of the Voice because of the number of highly distinctive singers who were featured: Willie Nelson, Mavis Staples, Aretha Franklin (who since cancelled), David Byrne, and Patricia Barber among them.

I hadn’t counted on discovering Monica Akihary, a Dutch vocalist of Austral-Asian heritage. Co-leading the quartet Boi Akih with guitarist Niels Brouwer, she covers a wide range, from soulful crooning on Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” to hyper-glottal wordless improvisation. Even better, her rich vocals are mirrored by the expressive playing of trombonist Wolter Wierbos, who delivered some memorable work on two Jimi Hendrix compositions: “Drifting” and a radically deconstructed “The Wind Cries Mary.” Even though some of the band’s equipment didn’t arrive until midway through its performance, Akihary maintained the flow of the set and its sense of focused surprise”.

The Georgia Straight-Alex Varty (CA)
At Performance Works on Sunday (June 23), “Old Man” was the Neil Young song that made an unlikely appearance during the second of two sets by the Dutch quartet Boi Akih. But then this whole band’s an unlikely creature, blending as it does psychedelic music, free improvisation, and singer-songwriter folk. With trombonist WolterWierbos providing an unearthly second voice and guitarist Niels Brouwer alternating between delicate acoustic fingerpicking and scratchy electric skronk, singer Monica Akihary was free to emote so wildly that she sometimes resembled a feral Norah Jones.Meanwhile, drummer Owen Hart Jr. was a surprise to everyone, including himself. A last-minute replacement for the band’s regular percussionist, Hart sounded like he’d been with the band since its inception, especially on gorgeous and radically reworked versions of the Jimi Hendrix tunes “Drifting” and “1983… (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)”. Jazz and rock have rarely come together in such pleasingly idiosyncratic style…”

London Jazz News (UK)
“Boi Akih, based around the singer Monica Akihary, does an alternative take on a number of bluesier numbers, including Hendrix and David Crosby. Her guitarist Niels Brouwer has a fascinating guitar including sympathetically-resonant strings. Yado Gibson, a saxophonist who was for some time part of the London Improvisers Orchestra circle, provided some striking interplay on saxophones. In attitude, rather than in particular sound, I was reminded of Christine Tobin’s work – arrangements that they make you reassess and give you a version which matches and even, at times, exceeds the originals”.

Jazznytt (N)
“On their earlier albums, this duo have done beautiful songs with a mix of Indonesian traditional music and European jazz. No doubt that the two of them have rare qualities as musicians. On “Circles in a Square Society” they do a handful of tunes by Brouwer that pleases the ear. However, it is the ´Standards´ that are really exceptional. When… Akihary can be heard- clear and pure, it is simply superb”.

On Tour

Jazznytt (NO)
“Duo ‘Boi Akih’ created a magical hour of pure acoustic music based on a fascinating tapestry of folk music, contemporary sounds and improvisation. Through a movingly pure musical journey we experienced all the essential elements of being human”.

“Boi Akih gave an earthy concert, alive and vibrating, complex and calming. You feel that the artists bring out the best in each other; it’s tangible, almost materialized”.

All About Jazz
“This is trio in total control of it’s musical environment and it’s strength lies in the musical empathy between the three musicians”.

Jakarta Post (RI)
“Moluccan Princess and her merry men enchant
The barefoot Akihary, clad in a flowing dress, immediately beguiled the audience in Indonesian before opening the show with a soulful Harukan number. She used her voice as an instrument, smoothly traveling from husky tones to notes of dazzling clarity, chasing her sounds with her hands, as if to extend her range even further”.


Klassieke Zaken (NL)
“Rarely have a voice and a guitar sounded so full, so complete and almost orchestral. Defying category while playing a variety of styles, they are so well attuned to each other the two sound as one”.

Ode Magazine (US)
“Hearing the two perform complex ad-lib in perfect sync sends shiver down your spine. Don’t miss them when they show up in your neighborhood”.

Rondo Magazine (DE)
‘The melodies that Niels Brouwer has composed for the extremely lithe and rich voice, recognize the European roots of his own background and while displaying his familiarity with the Moluccan tradition”.

Volkskrant (NL)
“Fabulous singing and masterly guitar playing in their own universe”.

NRC Handelsblad (NL)
‘That Boi Akih’s intimate salon music could capture the Amsterdam Bimhuis, was apparent fifteen minutes into the concert when Akihary and Brouwer demonstrated how short the step is from Spanish flamenco to Indian raga. If you know what the relationship is of course, and care to demonstrate that with skill and love. Akihary’s voice is incredibly varied, especially in the low registers, and Brouwer’s counter melodies are always spot on.’

“Kicking her sandals off, she steps onto the carpet with bare feet and begins singing like an angel. Without a hint of exaggeration, he play stunningly on a gently amplified guitar. The Moluccan/Dutch Monica Akihary, doesn’t need many words. She is a musician who happens to sing. It’s her timing and tone that matters most. Akihary’s voice is colorful, especially in the low tones and Brouwer’s guitar contrasts her perfectly. The duo was impressive in a very still BIMhuis’”.

“From pure Flamenco to the blues, from a gamelan-motif to American tinged country or even from India, Brouwer’s acoustic playing switches between styles that sound completely natural, cleverly subtle and precise. The guitarist is the perfect match to Akihary’s warm veiled sound that endears, excites and at times gets carried away.”

Lagu Lagu

ORF/ GlattundVerkehrt (AT)
“an extraordinary project, based on songs from the Moluccas wrapped up in arrangements that move between jazz and free chamber music”.

De Volkskrant  (NL)
‘’The finest jazz comes about if the creators know how to make a cross connection between their own cultural roots. Sometimes it goes beyond the ideal beauty of both, jazz and tradition, when it creates a total new esthetica. It happened to Dhafer Youssef (Malak). It seems to happen to Monica Akihary now. Akihary is one of the best jazz-vocalists of our country. She gives this repertoire a refreshing, raw beauty”.

Haagsche Courant (NL)
“In some songs like ‘Ole Sioh’ it is the plainness that moves’.
‘The breathtaking ‘La Apa Apa‘, a highlight on this original album. “

Heaven  (NL)
“Akihary finds a balance by singing with several voices, that express a diversity of her soul…’. ‘The pieces are solemn, windblow in a beautiful way and they all have a pleasant and natural groove”.

Uwa I

Jazzzeit (DE)
“full of lyrical angles and a richness of divers nuances, a musical experience of exceptional art ‘

Jazzthetik (DE)
“It’s a quiet, melodic music, that in her transparency, always offers an opportunity for small virtuoso masterpieces played by the involved instrumentalists”.

Abend Zeitung (DE)
“Four musical weltanschauung that grooves completely,but also creates a new concept of cultural symbiosis by improvisation”.

Business Day (SA)
“Vocalist, not singer, is the best term for Akihary: her voice swings sweetly – but also soars and swoops, scats and whispers”.

Parool (NL)
‘The music is playfull and warm, with once in a while, a little breeze of melancholy drifting past. Akihary’s strength lies in the intimacy of her humming and her power of improvisation”.