Very close to Amsterdam’s city centre, there are three ‘western islands’ that feel like a quiet village within the busy city. The fact that they are surrounded by water gives them a typical quietness, emphasized even more by the small streets and old merchant’s houses where many artists live.
Saxophonist Raaf Hekkema spends most of his childhood on one of these islands. Every day he rides his bike to school and back home over ‘Bickerseiland’, and every day he passes a dusty old building that has a sign over the front door, which says CALEFAX.
Years later, when the reed quintet is looking for a name, the word suddenly comes to Raaf again, Calefax!
We had already been using the name for a few years, when we accidentally discovered where it actually came from.
On a summer evening we’re enjoying an after-concert drink at Marcella, a bit of an obscure little café along one of Amsterdam’s canals. The walls are covered in old ship-materials and there are some quaint people working at the bar. A small gilded sign hangs on the wall behind the bar, which says in black letters: Calefax N.V. Amsterdam – Rotterdam.
Directly under the sign stands an old man, shrouded in a vapor of alcohol and cigarettes.
“Calefax? That was a company…yes, it was a construction company at Bickerseiland. Now théy knew how to make schip engines, a bunch of first class welders! Those Calefax-boys had some ovens, if they were being heated it sure was the hottest place in town.”