The Ghost, The King And I We Got Rhythm (Sound Liaison 2023)


Fresh tribute to George Gershwin. Seemingly impossible but that ain’t necessarily so.

The Ghost, The King And I - We Got Rhythm


Rob van Bavel (piano), Vincent Koning (guitar), Frans van Geest (bass)


on March 19, 2023 at MCO in Hilversum


as Sound Liaison in 2023

Track listing

It Ain’t Necessarily So
I Loves You Porgy
‘S Wonderful
I Got Rhythm
First Prelude (The Man I Love)
Second Prelude (The Blues)
Third Prelude

Giving credit where credit is due, pianist Rob van Bavel emphasizes the trio interaction that is seamlessly developed with bassist Frans van Geest and guitarist Vincent Koning, hence The Ghost, The King And I. (pun intented) It is in existence since 2008 and has performed all over the world. We Got Rhythm, a celebration of the music of George Gershwin, is already the trio’s sixth release. A Gershwin tribute may seem a downtrodden path. Not in the hands of these Dutchmen, who recorded this album for a live audience in the studio in Hilversum.

Plenty originality. With a capital P. ‘S Wonderful is joyfully old-timey, wonderfulee one might add, a rendition that conjures up the ghost of Fats Waller, exceptionally executed and segueing into fluent swing. I Got Rhythm is a similar mix of pre-bop stylings and modernity, incorporating contrafact-king Charlie Parker in the lively process. While It Ain’t Necessarily So thrives on a funky beat, First Prelude (The Man I Love) presents a thoroughly enjoyable blend of classical devices and the blues. A sparkling introduction by Vincent Koning sets up the rhythmically upbeat, perennial favorite Summertime.

Over the years, 58-years-old Van Bavel has developed into a man of many trades. A veteran of Woody Shaw and Johnny Griffin outfits and the exciting Jarmo Hoogendijk/Ben van den Dungen Quintet, he has been part of the hard-bopping Eric Ineke JazzXPress for years now. At the same time, he also rearranges classical pieces with his son Sebastiaan, also an acclaimed pianist. In the business, Van Bavel is known as that rare tickler of the eighty-eighty keys that, regardless of the condition of the piano, always tears it apart unfazed.

Studio 2 harbors a fine piano and Van Bavel relishes the occasion. His lines are crystal clear, oozing with exceptional technique that is never demonstrated for virtuosity’s sake. Hearing all that stuff, his melodic construction work of simple riffs, bluesy trillers, beautiful baroque harmonies, locked hands-playing, bass commentary on the right hand-phrasing, all this leading to a perfectly logical climax, is an awesome experience. In fact, always an elation. Like watching the marvelous outpouring of lava from the Etna.

Both features of the prelude – its origins in improvisation as well as latter-day formality – are explored by The Ghost, The King And I. Third Prelude is simply sublime. An eleven-minute-long marriage of swing and rhapsodies, with Koning sounding somewhat like the great René Thomas, Van Geest typically driving the band with a warm tone and great feeling and Van Bavel indulging in high classical drama.The fluency they share between them is demonstrated like it’s nothing.

Gershwin would’ve undoubtedly admired the imaginative We Got Rhythm by The Ghost, The King And I, the cream of the European crop.

The Ghost, The King And I

Find We Got Rhythm here.

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