Dado Moroni There Is No Greater Love (Storyville 2022)


Moroni is swinging till the girls come home.

Dado Moroni - There Is No Greater Love


Dado Moroni (piano), Jesper Lundgaard (bass), Lee Pearson (drums)


on May 20 & 21, 2016 at Club Montmartre, Copenhagen


as Storyville 1018493 in 2022

Track listing

There Is No Greater Love
Just One Of Those Things
First Smile
My Foolish Heart
C Jam Blues

Sixty-year-old Dado Moroni entered the jazz realm as a striking young lion in 1980, made a big impression in New York the following decade and prowled the globe as accompanist of giants as Clark Terry and Ray Brown. He has been a notable recording artist with George Robert, Tom Harrell, Enrico Rava and Peter Washington/Lewis Nash and performed with a who’s who of jazz including Dizzy Gillespie, Ron Carter, Joe LaBarbera, Nicholas Payton and many others. Carrying a long list of albums in his hip pocket, the current professor of jazz piano in Turin, Italy has nothing to prove. Yet, Storyville saw fit to release a live performance from 2016 at the famed Club Montmartre in Copenhagen when the Danish bassist Jesper Lundgaard heard the tapes and concluded that the trio was on top of its form.

Absolutely right, sir. If anything has become clear, it’s that swinging jazz is here to stay, even when the set list consists of old warhorses. Moroni has no qualms about swinging standards to the ground. Just One Of Those Things is particularly furious, not least because of the precise and energetic accompaniment of Lundgaard and American drummer Lee Pearson. Perhaps, There Is No Greater Love reveals the ultimate synergy of the trio, moving from breeze to sweet thunder, the underpinnings of Pearson’s brushes smooth as velvet, his sticks stoking up the fire, Lundgaard steering the locomotive through the fog, Moroni showcasing his special talent of playing simultaneously subtly and fiery. Somewhere between the buoyancy of Oscar Peterson and the long-lined beauty of Cedar Walton, Moroni has found his spot from where he elaborates on the tradition with consistent excellence.

The challenge of Django, the beatific melody of John Lewis which characteristic movements potentially paralyze urges of original improvisation, is met succinctly by Moroni, who by the way got his nickname “Dado” because he continually tripped over his real name Edgardo as a child. Moroni packages the homage to Django Reinhardt in Latin rhythm and is involved in tidal waves of notes that threaten to ruin the coast but barely skirt by the tropical islands of its changes. Close call but mission accomplished.

My Foolish Heart is marked by a strong bass solo. C-jam Blues is a hard-driving tour de force by Moroni. The sole original composition First Smile reveals shades of As Time Goes By. As time went by, the infectious virtuosity of Moroni has been documented by various labels since 2016, solidifying his reputation as the to-go-to Italian piano stallion of his generation.

Here are some Moroni highlights.

Check out a gorgeous trio version of What’s New from What’s New (1992); Reportedly, Moroni is proud of his solo albums The Way I Am (1994) and With Duke In Mind (1994). Rightly so. Listen to I Can’t Get Started and Ellington’s There Was Nobody Looking.

George Robert and Moroni take on Stablemates on Youngbloods (1995); Young Moroni is the tie that binds Swinging Till The Girls Come Home on Ray Brown/Pierre Boussaguet’s Two Bass Hits (1988); Last but not least, John Coltrane’s Giant Steps from Ray Brown’s Some Of My Best Friends Are The Piano Players (1994), plainly brilliant, find it on the full album at 29:10.

Here’s The Nearness Of You with Tom Harrell (2007); Moroni’s exciting composition Ghanian Village Live At Beverly Hills with Marco Panascia and Peter Erskine (2010); Plus a feature on drummer Alex Riel’s Full House from 2012, collaborating strongly on Just Friends.

Check out a compilation of Dado Moroni solos with Clark Terry live in 1994 on YouTube, featuring Pierre Boussaguet on bass and Alvin Queen on drums, one of the hardest-swinging trios of the era here!

Dado Moroni

This is an elaboration on my review of There Is No Greater Love for Jazz Journal UK. Thanks for the musical references, Jean-Michel Reisser-Beethoven.

Final note: Sadly, Lundgaard suffered a stroke which has stopped him from playing bass. Veteran of performances with Dexter Gordon, Chet Baker and many others, he has put an exclamation point on his recording career with typically strong and responsive playing.

Find There Is No Greater Love here.

Govreen/Sever Quartet Maya (JMI 2022)


Israelian/Slovenian/Dutch progressive jazz collective congregates in Amsterdam. Their promising debut album Maya oozes the proverbial metropolitan swagger.

Govreen:Sever Quartet - Maya


Aleksander Sever (vibraphone), Floris Kappeyne (piano), Omer Govreen (bass), Wouter Kühne (drums)


on June 4 & 5, 2021 at Lullabye Factory, Amsterdam


as JMI 008 in 2022

Track listing

God’s World

Some musicians eschew composing and are satisfied with playing standards at the risk of sounding old-fashioned, some colleagues arguably try too hard at writing originals because it appears to be a prerequisite for the modern jazz artist. This is only a matter of outside pressure. Of course, it’s only the inherent drive that counts. Amsterdam-based bassist Omer Govreen and vibraphonist Aleksander Sever convincingly go their own way. They have written a fresh and suspenseful progressive jazz set channeling a spirit, as they state, ‘of supernatural powers and magic’.

Govreen/Sever Quartet also features pianist Floris Kappeyne and drummer Wouter Kühne. Their seldom-heard vibes and piano combination is most welcome, neatly linking classical undercurrents to a spontaneous flood of moods. Maya positively leans towards the melancholic pieces of unsung hero Walt Dickerson. Bits of the daring interaction of Bobby Hutcherson and Andrew Hill shine through, if you will. Like the music of those adventurers of lore, Maya’s dynamic sound is the consequence of an analogue recording process. Analogue, y’all. Amen.

So much for comparisons. The band’s got a rugged, serene and mysterious beauty all her own. Heal is a beautiful melody with the tenderness of a lullaby. It reminds me of sweet and sour songs like Gene Lees’s Grandfather’s Waltz, which is high recommendation. Whoever assumes that he will fall asleep is mistaken. Slowly but surely, the tension is heightened near the end.

As far as energy and tension is concerned, Inwoods is nonpareil. Kappeyne paints with his piano notes, mixing moody pastels with Marslit reds and pineapple yellows and coming up with a sparkling canvas. Sever’s spirited vibraphone playing brings the song to boiling point, underlined by recalcitrant drums rolls. Comforting in the solid beat of Govreen, Kühne goes way out, freely counterattacking Inwood’s gritty rhythmic flow. I’m really impressed by Kühne’s current playing style (and sound!) and read somewhere that he has spend time in NYC. Did he perhaps enjoy an afternoon or two with Ari Hoenig?

The lovely slow piece Tired, surprisingly underscored by drum march figures, is another highlight of a record that features approximately 30 seconds of straight swing, just so you know what Maya, a mature album full of intriguing songs from a bunch of high-level cats, is about.

Find Maya here.

Bob Cooper/Bud Shank/June Christy/Stan Kenton/Shelly Manne/Jimmy Giuffre West Coast In Amsterdam (Dutch Jazz Archive 2022)


After releases of Chet Baker and Gerry Mulligan performances the Dutch Jazz Archive completes the visits of West Coast-based musicians to the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam in the 1950s/60s with West Coast In Amsterdam, a compilation of concerts by Stan Kenton, Bob Cooper & Bud Shank, June Christy, Jimmy Giuffre and Shelly Manne. Gorgeous production.

West Coast In Amsterdam


Bob Cooper (tenor saxophone, oboe) & Bud Shank (alto saxophone, flute), Claude Williamson (piano), Don Prell (bass), Jimmy Pratt (drums); June Christy (vocals); Stan Kenton Orchestra featuring Stan Kenton (piano), Lennie Niehaus (alto saxophone), Carl Fontana (trombone), Bill Perkins (tenor saxophone), Sam Noto (trumpet), Curtis Counce (bass), Mel Lewis (drums), Bill Holman (arranger) a.o.; Shelly Manne (drums), Joe Gordon (trumpet), Richie Kamuca (tenor saxophone), Russ Freeman (piano), Monty Budwig (bass); Jimmy Giuffre (clarinet, tenor saxophone), Jim Hall (guitar), Buddy Clark (bass) or Wilfred Middlebrooks (bass)


from 1956-60 at Concertgebouw, Amsterdam


as NJA 2202 in 2022

Track listing

See below

There’s a joke in Dutch jazz circles. If everybody who said that he was present at the legendary midnight shows of Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis and other giants at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam really was there, it would have required the Olympic Stadium to house the complete audience. Of course, after so many fine releases of Concertgebouw concerts by the Dutch Jazz Archive, which feature beautiful pictures of artists and audiences, plenty old-timers have evidence at the tip of their fingers and might be stating, “look over there, that’s me closely watching Monk doing his crazy pirouettes.”

New release West Coast In Amsterdam, fiftheenth (!) installment of Concertgebouw releases by the Dutch Jazz Archive, as usual the outcome of restored tapes that impresario Lou van Rees made from all concerts, takes up quite some space in the bag of Santa Claus. Bulky package of three CD’s, booklet with insightful liner notes, stunning photography. And an army of West Coast cats. The earliest performances are by the Stan Kenton band in 1956. His trademark classically inspired ensembles are striking, lot of dissonance, booming symphonic accents, courtesy also of arranger Bill Holman. Fabulous solos by trombonist Carl Fontana catch our attention. While Latin tune The Peanut Vendor comes across as rather old-fashioned, silly even, Cherokee is fresh as a daisy, a heavy swinger generated by bassist Curtis Counce and drummer Mel Lewis, negating the lore that Kenton refused to swing. Or was it a question of disobedience?

As far as bop anthems go, tenor saxophonist and oboe player Bob Cooper and alto saxophonist and flutist Bud Shank picked out a few warhorses for their 1958 concert, notably Bird’s Scrapple From The Apple, which also is a showcase for pianist Claude Williamson, who is like a cook that dares to mix haute cuisine with hot street food spices. After all, regardless of continuous endeavors in the ‘cool’ music scene on the sunny coast, these guys learned their trade on Central Avenue in Los Angeles, where Wardell Gray, Dexter Gordon and Teddy Edwards reigned supreme.

Williamson also accompanies singer June Christy the same night. Oh what a night, mid-March back in ’58, what a lady what a night… Christy, Ella-ish but very much her own woman, makes full use of her satin timbre, sassy phrasing, flawless long and slightly bended notes and, not least, her storytelling abilities. In this respect, Billy Barnes’s Something Cool stands out, a great example of her ability to transform sentiment into realism. Down-and-out dame at the bar is is ordering something cool, asks if a gent likes her dress… it’s a bit worn but she saves the mink coat for wintertime… that was when she still had her man… he was so tall and handsome… Blah blah. But you can hear a pin drop.

A year later, clarinetist and tenor saxophonist Jimmy Giuffre animated the crowd with his ‘chamber jazz’ trio featuring guitarist Jim Hall and bassist Buddy Clark. Certainly, the contrapuntal empathy of his trio is inspired by outside sources. But Giuffre never loses sight of jazz home base. Case in point Tickle Toe is partly an homage to composer Lester Young, with its sweet legato phrasing on tenor and softly pulsating intensity. Too, homage seems to pervade Giuffre’s ballad Princess, perhaps, better said, pure love, imagined by light sandpaper clarinet sounds. Touching lyricism and understatement pervades Giuffre’s playing style. Giuffre’s companion Jim Hall is equally averse to spectacle and full of ideas, already quite original at that early stage of his career. Great show, and the best sounding concert of the album.

Shelly Manne & His Men’s performance from February 27, 1960 sounds more bootleg-y (wisely the Dutch Jazz Archive hasn’t made use of all Van Rees tapes) but it’s perfectly audible that they kick ass half a year after their Blackhawk date in San Francisco, which was released on the much-admired Live At The Blackhawk Volume 1-5 albums. Trumpeter Joe Gordon and tenor saxophonist Richie Kamuca are in fine form. Replacement (for Victor Feldman) Russ Freeman incorporates apt stride motives in Monk’s Straight No Chaser, which was niftily introduced by the rolling and tumbling bandleader. Prime West Coast hard bop.

Hopefully, though the contrary seems likely, West Coast In Amsterdam will not be the last Jazz At The Concertgebouw album. If so, one couldn’t have wished for a better climax.

West Coast In Amsterdam

Cooper/Shank: Scrapple From The Apple; Tickle Toe; ‘Round Midnight; The Way You Look Tonight; A Night In Tunesia; Nature Boy; I’ll Remember April
Christy: I Want To Be Happy; That’s All; The Midnight Sun; I’ll Take Romance; It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing); Something Cool; How High The Moon
Kenton Orchestra: Intermission Riff; Polka Dots And Moonbeams; Carl; The Peanut Vendor; Stella By Starlight; Cherokee; Young Blood; Artistry In Rhythm
Manne: Nightingale; Yesterdays; Poinciana; Straight No Chaser
Giuffre 3: Happy Man; Tickle Toe; Princess; Time Machine; My Funny Valentine; Fascinating Rhythm

Find West Coast In Amsterdam on the website of the Dutch Jazz Archive here.

Jack McDuff Live At Parnell’s (Soul Bank Music 2022)

They called him Brother Jack for a reason.

Brother Jack McDuff - Live At Parnell's


Brother Jack McDuff (organ), unknown (alto saxophone), unknown (guitar), Garrick King (drums)


in June 1982 at Parnell’s Jazz Club in Seattle, Washington


as SBM 007 in 2022

Track listing

Make It Good
Untitled D Minor
Déja Vu
Fly Away
Another Real Good’n
Blues In The Night
Satin Doll
Night In Tunesia
Killer Joe
Take The A-Train
Wives And Lovers
Walkin’ The Dog
Lover Man
Blues 1&8

The ongoing revival of the Hammond organ is unescapable. The iconic B3 is omnipresent, occasionally integrated in the modified aesthetic of avant-leaning electronic artists but more often as the prima donna of roots music. Countless organ groove outfits roam the prairies of the land of grease from Los Angeles to Osaka, Milan to Jakarta and Rotterdam to Stockholm. All of them are influenced by the likes of Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Lonnie Smith, Booker T. Jones and Cyril Neville.

And, unmistakably, Brother Jack McDuff. As a hot modern jazz player, skilled bass pedal player and excellent arranger, McDuff was as all-round as one could get. Above all, Brother Jack (on his first live record for Prestige in 1964, McDuff stated during his introduction that they ‘call me Brother Jack for a reason, once you got that church in ya it’s hard to backslide all the way’) was an unparalleled churchy screamer, getting the club circuit flock excited to no end. One of the most popular organists of the golden age of soul jazz in the 1960’s, he reached a particular peak with his killer mid-sixties group of tenor saxophonist Red Holloway, guitarist George Benson and drummer Joe Dukes.

The dynamic journey of Laurens Hammond’s tone wheel-driven invention evolved from church life, theaters, the American household, black chitlin’ circuit of clubs to the jazz world and, eventually, soul, (prog) rock music and, in sampled formats, the world of hip hop. But by the early 1970’s, the dominating forces of disco and digital keyboards pushed the organ to the outer fringes of music and society. Some warriors dabbled with electronics, many of them quit, lone rangers kept bringing their top-heavy instruments to the remaining dives or supper clubs in tailor-made vans. Many finally rode the waves of the organ revival that was spawned by renewed interest in soul jazz, notably stimulated by English deejays, breakbeat producers and the ‘acid jazz’ movement. From then on, former popular organists as The Smiths, McGriff, Groove Holmes, Rhoda Scott and McDuff toured Europe and Japan to much acclaim. Back home, bands from guys like McDuff were breeding grounds for ‘woodshedding’ young lions. Among others, Cecil Bridgewater, John Hart, Chris Potter, Joe Magnarelli, Eric Alexander, Roy Hargrove and Art Porter learned to take care of business in Brother Jack’s relentless groove machine.

But by the early 1980’s, McDuff was one of the half-forgotten warriors, bereft of places to perform. However, as can be heard on Live At Parnell’s`, Brother Jack hadn’t lost his touch. By all means, he was swingin’ like mad and burnin’ like hell. Live At Parnell’s has an incredible back story, beginning with rusty private recordings of engineer Scott Hawthorne that dwelled on the internet in the late 1990’s to a brand-new sound palette engendered by Artificial Intelligence in 2022. Considering the apparent flaws of the original tapes, Live At Parnell’s sounds very good, apart from a relatively harsh saxophone sound and occasional distortions of Brother Jack’s Leslie Speaker. This is not bootleg fare but a genuine album.

And Brother Jack’s on a roll, assisted by top-notch “unknowns” on alto saxophone and guitar and drummer Garrick King. Hearing Brother Jack’s typical grit and grease, a couple of modern jazz classics and Ellingtonia, the audience at Parnell’s had it made. McDuff’s funky Fly Away is marked by a gorgeous gospel introduction. Another Real Good’n is the final installment of McDuff’s blues Good’ns that he started in his glory days, in this case McDuff’s eponymous band with Bad Benson, Holloway and Dukes. McDuff’s medium-tempo blues burning highlight abundantly shows that the altoist, guitarist and Garrick are worthy heirs.

McDuff swings Night In Tunesia and Benny Golson’s Killer Joe to the ground. His sweetly rendered Satin Doll attests to a fine understanding of the Ellington aesthetic. Perhaps best of all is Burt Bacharach’s Wives And Lovers (check out Red Holloway’s version on 1964’s Cookin’ Together) which strikes a perfect balance between hot Summer and breezy Spring. Both the saxophone player, whose fervor reminds of Booker Ervin, and six-string bender, whose clear lines and punchy attack shadow box with the ghosts of Pat Martino and Grant Green, demonstrate a satisfying penchant for breaking out of the changes. McDuff is full of energy, never more so than during Duke Pearson’s Make It Good, putting chili pepper in everyone’s ass on the bandstand.

1982 definitely was a good year for Brother Jack, as this valuable release showcases abundantly.

Jack McDuff

Addendum: The sleeve of Live At Parnell’s mentions saxophonist Danny Wollinski and guitarist Henry Johnson. However, it turned out that this information most likely is incorrect. Henry Johnson did play with McDuff in the early 1980’s but communicated to Soul Bank Music’s executive Greg Boraman that he worked with none other than Ramsey Lewis at the time. So his tour diary said.

Boraman gave a copy to the recently deceased, lamented organist and multi-instrumentalist Joey DeFrancesco backstage at Ronnie Scott’s in London in July. Passionate B3 geek DeFrancesco had heard the tapes way back when and was enamored by the restored Live At Parnell’s release and stated: “Jack is playing his ass off on this date.”

Familiar with Garrick King’s playing, DeFrancesco said that he was 99% certain that it is King holding the drum chair at Parnell’s. Duly noted.

Find Live At Parnell’s on Soul Bank Music here.

Ferdinand Povel and the Rob Madna Trio Live at Café Hopper (Daybreak/Challenge 2007)


Dutch luminaries conquered Café Hopper in Antwerp.

Ferdinand Povel - Live At Café Hopper


Ferdinand Povel (tenor saxophone), Rob Madna (piano), Marius Beets (bass), Eric Ineke (drums)


on May 31, 2000 at Café Hopper, Antwerp


as DBCHR75370 in 2007

Track listing

Sleepless City
How Deep Is The Ocean
Will You Still Be Mine
Stella By Starlight
The Touch Of Your Lips
The Theme

As good as some concerts in big halls are and as good as the recorded evidence on wax sounds, there’s nothing like the atmosphere of the small club or café. Three Deuces. Birdland. Half Note Café. Lenny’s On The Turnpike. The Front Room. Boomers. And still going strong: Montmartre in Kopenhagen, Smalls in NYC. Over here in the Low-Lands there were places like Sheherazade in Amsterdam, B14 in Rotterdam, Persepolis in Utrecht, Pepijn in The Hague, Nick Vollebregt’s Jazzcafé in Laren. Way back when, the region was scattered with little spots that programmed jazz. Most of the places have disappeared. But there are some great new spots and some of the oldies are still around. De Tor in Enschede, Porgy & Bess in Terneuzen, Mahogany Hall in Edam, Paradox in Tilburg, Dizzy in Rotterdam, De Twee Spieghels in Leiden. When you hear a fluff or the choking of a valve you also witness the twitching eyebrow of the saxophonist and the chuckle of the drummer. You see the sweat running down the bassist’s neck. It’s live and lively.

Café Hopper in Antwerp, Belgium is a warhorse in existence since 1991. The beloved founder, bassist Mary Hehuat, sadly passed away last year. His sons had already more or less taken over business for a couple of years. Let’s hope that the place will continue their jazz programming. Between Low-Land icons as Toots Thielemans and local heroes, the little stage housed Lee Konitz, Nat Adderley, Wynton Marsalis and Brad Meldhau. In 2000, Hopper had typically booked a top-rate crew and presented tenor saxophonist Ferdinand Povel and the trio of pianist Rob Madna featuring bassist Marius Beets and drummer Eric Ineke. Not conscious about all Ineke’s enormous output, the release was pointed out to me recently by the latter tireless ambassador of hard bop, prominent mentor of young national and international lions and lionesses at conservatories around the world.

“Ferdinand was on top of his form’”, said Ineke.

Check. On fire.

Let’s for once resist the temptation to start the discourse which explains that not everything from the United States is pure gold and that Europe, after initial startup problems, spawned a pool of major-league players in the 1950s-70s, whose excellence often surprised American legends and pros, who on rare occasions even were outstripped in the act of improvisation. Let’s totally set aside the fact that Europe learned jazz from the homeland and its implied minority complex and see if a piece of jazz is hip or not whether it’s from America, Finland or Korea or black, white or yellow.

Today’s listening pleasure is from The Netherlands and plainly outstanding. Povel came up in the late 1960’s and developed into one of the prime Dutch saxophonists. He spent many years in the big bands of Peter Herbolzheimer and The Skymasters and was guest soloist in prime national and international big bands but also freelanced with the likes of Maynard Ferguson, Philly Joe Jones, Dusko Goykovich and John Marshall. Madna (1931-2003) was one of the earliest high-level modern jazz pianists in the country in the 1950s and played with Phil Woods, Lucky Thompson and Freddie Hubbard. Ineke got on a roll in the late 1960s and 1970s as accompanist of Dexter Gordon and Johnny Griffin, among countless others. All have been influential mentors and teachers. Up to 2000, they had played and recorded with each other for decades, followed in their footsteps by ‘young’ bassist Marius Beets, who accompanied numerous artists with the Rein de Graaff Trio and is part of hard bop outfit The Eric Ineke Xpress.

They perform the boppish Madna tunes Sleepless City and Choctaw, and the standards How Deep Is The Ocean, Will You Still Be Mine, The Touch Of Your Lips and Stella By Starlight. Their rapport is evident and it all swings so smoothly like meandering rivers through the Alp valleys yet propulsive like a Lear jet. Close your eyes and listen to the tenor saxophonist and his long stories, brimming with ideas, never repeating himself but instead weaving one beautiful and logical line after another, bossy and soulful. His beat is slightly and pleasantly idiosyncratic, his sound is solid, burnished and punchy. Though he’s never roaring, there is in his playing a compelling urgency that challenges his rhythm section to come up with inventive goods. Above all, he’s controlled and graceful and particularly shines throughout Sleepless City and How Deep Is The Ocean.

Madna takes center stage with a sizzling rendition of Will You Still Be Mine. His refined restyling of Stella By Starlight is very enticing and underlined by subtle cymbal shadings by Ineke, who sets up a kind of floating time while locking in tightly with Beets at the same time. The tension builds, reflecting a great symphonic theme, that’s Stella by starlight and not a dream…

To boot, the sound is resonant and clear, courtesy of one Stephan van Wylick and this allows us to fully experience the typical pleasure of live barroom jazz. Just one night. But multiply and you have a life full of the real thing.

Ferdinand Povel

Live At Café Hopper is reissued on the Japanese Ultra-Vybe label.

Recommended listening:

Ferdinand Povel – Beboppin’ (Limetree 1983); YouTube link here.
Rob Madna – I Got It Bad And That Ain’t Good (Omega 1977, featuring Eric Ineke); YouTube link here.
The Eric Ineke XPress – Dexternity: The Music Of Dexter Gordon (Daybreak 2016)

Listen to Good Bait, another good one by Povel with Rein de Graaff, Marius Beets, Eric Ineke and Pete Christlieb below on Spotify.

The New York Second Music At Night (Sena 2021)


The New York Second expertly jazzifies the essays of Aldous Huxley. Try it some time.

The New York Second - Music At Night


Harald Walkate (piano), Teus Nobel (trumpet, flugelhorn), Mark Alban Lotz (flute), Jesse Schilderink (tenor saxophone), Vincent Veneman (trombone), Thomas Pol (bass), Max Sergeant (drums)


at Wedgeview in 2021


on Sena in 2021

Track listing

These Are The Chosen Words
Him, A Bull? Ha! A Bird
The Bostonian
The Drowned World
Music At Night
No More Epilogues
The Keys Ain’t The Keys No More
The Ayes Have It
The Drowned World (reprise)

There has been a steady flow of ‘literary’ or shall we say ‘conceptual’ jazz recordings in The Netherlands of late. Under The Surface featuring Sanne Rambags has built an album around pre-Middle Age lyrical sources. Coal Harbor’s Feedforward focuses on the 21st century paradox of growth and decline. Bass clarinetist Joris Roelofs’ Rope Dance is inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche. The inspiration of Mete Erker and Jeroen van Vliet’s In stems from the utopian story Island by Aldous Huxley, writer of the famous book Brave New World.

While reviewing those projects has been left in the able hands of others elsewhere, I do have permission to share my thoughts on The New York Second’s Music At Night here, which incidentally takes Huxley’s book of essays Music At Night as the springboard for nine carefully crafted compositions by Amsterdam-based pianist and bandleader Harald Walkate. In various combinations, The New York Second has released three albums, preceding their latest by Bay Of Poets and Emergo. Besides Walkate, the band nowadays includes trumpeter and flugelhorn player (and co-producer) Teus Nobel, flutist Mark Alban Lotz, tenor saxophonist Jesse Schilderink, trombonist Vincent Veneman, bassist Thomas Pol and drummer Max Sergeant.

Interestingly, Leiden-born Walkate (1970) kindly explained by email that he is not only a jazz musician but also works in finance. His travel experiences seep through in his work, in the case of Music At Night, for instance, visits to Paris, Boston and Florida. Walkate: “Naturally, while I’m staying abroad I always go to concerts and get into touch with local musicians.”

There’s always the risk that ‘literary’ and ‘conceptual’ spiral out of control and equate with pompousness. (It happens) Though the repertoire of Music At Night definitely is through-composed, Walkate and The New York Second successfully manage to avoid this pitfall. The arcs of Walkate’s diverse and suspenseful tunes are tackled expressively and his uncanny timing and voicing of brass and reed keeps the listener on the edge of his seat.

Walkate himself (you get the feeling you have come to know this man and charming writer a bit by reading the extensive liner notes by him and friends and you imagine him seated in a Chesterfield chair, glass of Scotch in one hand, a book by James Thurber in the other… or am I picturing myself… liner notes that may certainly enhance your listening experience, though it has to be said that the music perfectly stands on its own) is a thoughtful soloist. Especially enticing during the sultry, film noir-ish The Keys Ain’t The Keys No More, Walkate performs a fully rounded short story of repetitive motives and rhythmic shifts.

It would be insincere to say that all tunes are equally satisfying to me. However, coherence and a good flow are strong points of the album and ‘satisfying’ (and ‘easy peasy’) are words that appropriately describe the task of picking a couple of winners. The hilarious title of Him, A Bull? Ha! A Bird coincidentally is an anagram of Abdullah Ibrahim, whose style is said to prefigure that of The New York Second’s pater familias. The ballad shifts focus to an anecdote of a meeting between Hemingway and Picasso and features lively playing by Schilderink, whose tenor sound is imbued with a slightly raw edge and growl.

A nimble and exotic beat nudges along Music At Night, a multi-layered piece that benefits not only from the melodic leading role of Pol’s bass but also from Veneman’s killer trombone, Lotz’s supple flute and Nobel’s flexible trumpet (remarkably steady and spicy in all registers). Here’s a bunch of cats that capitalize on Walkate’s opportunities like elegant strikers on the soccer pitch of Camp Nou.

That makes up for a hattrick. And then some. The oblique but tantalizing movements of The Ayes Have It seem to find the middle ground between dark-hued Wayne Shorter and uplifting Duke Pearson. And arguably also resemble the stylings of one of Walkate’s self-declared favorite bands, the jazz and literature-inspired alt-pop phenomenon Steely Dan. To be sure, Walkate/The New York Second and Becker/Fagen have in common high-level musicianship and a great ear for detail and definitely delivered a must-hear.

The New York Second

Find Music At Night on Walkate’s website here.

Ricardo Pinheiro Gestures/Momentum (Inner Circle Music 2022)


Ricardo Pinheiro’s live recordings from 2009 with Chris Cheek make clear that the Portuguese guitarist had developed a personal style long before he became more visible on the international stages.

Ricardo Pinheiro - Gestures

Ricardo Pinheiro - Momentum


Ricardo Pinheiro (guitar), Chris Cheek (tenor and soprano saxophone), Mário Laghina (piano), João Paulo Esteves da Silva (Fender Rhodes), Demian Labaud (bass), Alexander Frazão (drums)


at S. Luiz Theatre, Lisbon on June 28, 2009


Inner Circle Music in 2022

Track listing

Somewhere Nowhere
Sereno (Para Patricia)
Open Letter (To Leo)
Soleil Levant

At the time, Pinheiro’s band no doubt gained ‘momentum’. It moves dynamically in and out of varying spheres, often within the context of one composition. Pinheiro’s airy sound gives his music something of its own. His music switches from Jethro Tull-type lines to funky fusion and elaborate ballads, embellished by Mediterranean and South-American spices, courtesy of 4/5th of his group’s line-up. Besides American guest artist Chris Cheek on tenor and soprano saxophone, Pinheiro is accompanied by pianist Mário Laghina and Fender Rhodes player João Paulo Esteves da Silva from Portugal, bassist Demian Labaud from Argentina and drummer Alexander Frazão from Brazil.

Pinheiro kindly answered some questions about his twin album release. He says: “Chris Cheek was part of my group back in 2008-2010. He is one of my favorite saxophone players in the whole world. We recorded these two albums in June 2009 live at the Teatro S. Luiz in Lisbon, and I became aware of this recording only in September 2021. As the artistic director of the Sintra Jazz Festival 2021, I encountered the sound engineer who showed me the recording – he recorded that particular concert back in 2009. I listened to it and thought the music was happening.”

About the exotic tinges of some of his compositions: “Maybe there is some hidden Mediterranean flavor in the music. Some harmonic progressions, melodies and rhythms maybe suggest this Southern-European utopian imagination, I guess! It must be something that comes out naturally, without any kind of imposition or overthinking. Melody drives my compositional process, and I always try to write beautiful melodies without over-rationalizing about them.”

Cheek probes and smoothly finds his way in the woods of Pinheiro’s sumptuous melodies. His interaction with Soleil Levant’s juicy rhythm is an especially interesting experience. Mário Laghina’s quicksilver piano and João Paulo Esteves da Silva’s Rhodes lines take the fusion of Pop-Up to a higher level. Although his sound here, more woolly than usual, gives the impression of a runaway satellite from a space station, Pinheiro’s statements are equally fulfilling.

Pinheiro and his men revel in their handling of the dream-like Isabel, an enticing and free-flowing piece of rubato lyricism, double-time as well as suggested rhythm, which kind of reflects the temperamental waves and swell of the sea, not least because of Pinheiro’s beautifully executed tone and volume control effects. Pinheiro would elaborate on his balanced bag of tricks on Pinheiro/Cavalli/Ineke’s Triplicity in 2018 and Turn Out The Stars in 2021 and Pinheiro’s Caruma in 2020. He has been very inventive in this respect.

By all means, Pinheiro’s belated album release of Gestures and Momentum by Greg Osby’s Inner Circle Music is not an unnecessary luxury.

Ricardo Pinheiro

Find Gestures and Momentum here.