Marjorie Barnes & Equinox Brighter Shores (EJP 2017)

NEW RELEASE – MARJORIE BARNES & EQUINOX

Singer Marjorie Barnes couldn’t have asked for a better supporting outfit than Equinox.

Marjorie Barnes & Equinox - Brighter Shores

Personnel

Marjorie Barnes (vocals), Dan Nicholas (guitar), Simon Rigter (tenor saxophone), Ruud Breuls (trumpet; track 3), Bob Wijnen (piano), Steven Zwanink (bass), Marcel Serierse (drums)

Recorded

Autumn 2016 a Wedgeview Studios, Woerdense Verlaat, The Netherlands

Released

as EJP 0002 in 2017

Track listing

Tracks:
Let’s Dance
Brighter Shores
Come What May
Throw It Away
Lady Be Good
Little Girl Blue
E.V.’s Berlin Bounce
I’m Glad There’s You
Round And Round
Where And When
Here’s To Life


The American singer first came to The Netherlands in 1975 as a member of soul group The Fifth Dimension and subsequently, while performing as a jazz and Broadway performer around the globe to high acclaim, spent half a lifetime teaching at the conservatories of Hilversum and The Hague. On Brighter Shores, Barnes is supported by guitarist Dan Nicholas, tenor saxophonist Simon Rigter, pianist Bob Wijnen, bassist Steven Zwanink and drummer Marcel Serierse. The self-proclaimed keepers of the flame, products of the Dutch mainstream jazz city #1, The Hague, provide a resonant and occasionally very hardboppish canvas for the classy strokes of Barnes.

For all Brighter Shores’ radio-friendly content, Barnes remains the antithesis of frumpy singing, a survivor-of-the-fittest that won’t shy away frow wailing, groaning or bending notes if a tune calls for streetwise sparks to be added to its smoothly operating flow. The album’s opening tune, a hard-swinging version of David Bowie’s Let’s Dance, is a case in point. Nicholas, guitarist, bandleader, arranger and lyricist, builds a sparkling, coherent story in the self-penned title track, Brighter Shores. It’s one of three original Nicholas tunes on the album. His arrangements are uplifting, hip, the driving horn sections of Let’s Dance, (the instrumental) E.V.’s Berlin Bounce and the excellent build-up from the kinetic bass intro to the down-home blues vibe of Abbey Lincoln’s Throw It Away being especially enticing. Simon Rigter’s tenor sax sound and the voice of Barnes are like brother and sister. Rodger & Hart’s Where Or When has Rigter snake-charming Barnes from a shopworn nightclub, the one where a corny thank-you-for-smoking-cardboard-sign hangs loosely on a nail behind the bar.

Thankful and thoughtful feelings abound in Here’s To Life. Marjorie Barnes sings like someone who’s been determined to overcome hard times and cherish the good times, ‘has no complaints, no regrets, I still believe in chasing dreams and playing bets, I learned that all you give is all you get, so give it all you got, I’ve had my share, I drank my fill and even though I’m satisfied, I’m hungry still to see what’s down another road, beyond the hill and do it all over again…’.

Come What May expresses similar emotions. Interestingly, before Allee Willis’ song became a hit by Patti LaBelle in 1979, Marjorie Barnes was scouted by Leon Ware to record the tune. Aptly, the lush arrangements of Dan Nicholas are a nod to the arranging job of songwriter and performer Leon Ware for Marvin Gaye’s I Want You, the added, sweet-tart interlude functioning as the icing on the soul-infused cake. Come What May boasts a guest appearance from trumpeter Ruud Breuls, who puts his cushion-soft sound and melodic style to superb use and blends sweetly with Simon Rigter, his longtime hard bop companion, who appears on flute. So the inclusion of Breuls makes Equinox a sextet of outstanding compadres of the experienced leading lady, Marjornie Barnes.

Find info of Marjorie Barnes and Equinox here.

Listen to the album sampler here.

The Equinox Jazz Production documentary Facing The Music about the motivations of Equinox Jazz Production and the singular The Hague scene will be screened at the Marriott in The Hague on February 2. Also that evening, the release of Brighter Shores will be celebrated. Watch the Preview here.

The Last Time He Saw Paris

GRANT GREEN –

Reader Toine Metselaar sent this footage of guitarist Grant Green on YouTube. Supposedly, it’s recorded in a TV studio in Paris in 1969. A most welcome addition to the familiar footage of Green, Barney Kessel and Kenny Burrell, performing for the Jazz Scene television show at Ronnie Scott’s, London on December 26, 1969. Both performances are with the rhythm section of Larry Ridley and Don Lamont.

By 1969, Green had had some rough years. The most prolific recording artist of Blue Note in the early and mid sixties, Green – one of those supreme musician’s musicians – nonetheless failed to gain broad public recognition and was at a low ebb. Struggling with drug addiction, Green had also spent some time in jail. However, in December 1969 Green was back on the Blue Note roster. Convinced by his friend, organist Reuben Wilson to focus on funk and popular tunes, Green was featured firstly on Wilson’s superb, well-received Love Bug album including Lee Morgan, George Coleman and Idris Muhammad, and then released his Blue Note comeback album as a leader, Carryin’ On. Love Bug was recorded on March 21, Carryin’ On on October 3. Preceding those albums, Green was also featured on two soul jazz albums of the Prestige label: Rusty Bryant’s Rusty Bryant Returns (February 17) and organist Charles Kynard’s Soul Brotherhood. (March 10) Thus, Green was back at Rudy van Gelder’s famed Englewood Cliffs studio, and desperately seeking recognition.

So Green’s appearance in London (it’s unclear whether Paris was broadcasted) came at the right time. It came about, however, quite by happenstance. As Sharony Andrews Green (Green’s daughter-in-law) tells in her biography of Green, Rediscovering The Forgotton Genius Of Jazz Guitar, Green wasn’t first choice: ‘He was determined to give it one last try. So he did the unthinkable. Realizing he needed an international reputation, he overcame his fear of flying and got on a plane to attend the London Jazz Expo. He shared the stage with Kenny Burrell and Barney Kessel. It was actually a fluke that he even participated. Tal Farlow had been promised as the third man, but Farlow canceled and Grant stepped in. The fact that his name wasn’t advertised on the marque outside made him play “that much harder,” Grant would tell an interviewer.’

To see Green play that much harder as the only soloist in Paris, to witness the master at work for longer than the snippet that has heretofore been available, is something many fans are extremely thankful for, yours truly included. Green, employing his unique single-note line style, horn-like approach and sizzling, singing tone, plays, among others, I Don’t Want Nobody To Give Me Nothing, (the James Brown tune that is featured on Carryin’ On, the trio setting isn’t really appropriate for funk but it’s a pleasure to see Green play it), Sonny Rollins’ Airegin and Sonnymoon For Two. And note the intense manner in which Green recovers from some loose ends in his beautiful version of a Brazilian tune (Manha de Carnival? Or?) and his fireworks intro and coda of a down-home 12-bar blues excursion.

Only after a rediscovery by break-beating aficionados in Great-Britain in the late eighties and the subsequent re-issues of his Blue Note catalogue, long after Green’s death in 1979, did fame finally came to the indomitable guitarist.

03 Jazz Trio Opening (SedaJazz 2017)

NEW RELEASE – 03 JAZZ TRIO

The first thing that comes to mind listening to 03 Jazz Trio’s Opening is that it must be the work of a tight-knit outfit that has been playing together nightly for months.

03 Jazz Trio - Opening

Personnel

Joan Benavent (tenor saxophone), Matt Baker (bass), Eric Ineke (drums) Voro Garzia (trumpet 6-7), Toni Belenguer (trombone 6-7), Santi Navalon (piano 6-7)

Recorded

in 2016 in Valencia

Released

as SedaJazz Records DL.V1230 in 2017

Track listing

Opening
Sira I Xesca
Danseuses de Delphes
Añoranza
Coffe At The Almost Dead People Place
Speak Low
Grews Tune


That’s not the case. Although the protagonists have been crossing each other’s paths. The Spanish tenor saxophonist Joan Benavent and American bassist Matt Baker both live in Valencia. Dutch master drummer Eric Ineke, also an enthusiastic teacher at music schools and conservatories all around Europe, met Benavent at the Conservatory of The Hague. Subsequently, Benavent invited over Ineke to Valencia’s Seda Jazz school. There, Benavent coupled the drummer with the versatile Matt Baker to form a recording unit for Benavent’s ideas to come to fruition. The men participated in an avant-leaning session (and live performance) that turned out remarkably well.

By his own account inspired by John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, hard bop and classical music, there is nothing that suggests Benavent is overreaching. An immaculate and extravert stylist – Benavent searches the extremes of his horn but is neither wild nor aggressive – the big and clear-sounding saxophonist tackles such diverse compositions as Debussy’s Danses De Delphes, Weill/Nash’ Speak Low and Benavent’s post-boppish Opening. This particular ‘opening’ of the program, definitely marked by the ‘Impulse label’ vibe, is something else. The grand, bowed bass opening, loose drum polyrhythm and Benavent’s lyrical yet charged theme immediately works on the emotions, pulling you in the promising universe of the album. Bang! It further develops through the solo of Benavent, whose ‘singing’ tone effectively ices his cake of sheets of sound and staccato playing, via fluent switches of tempo by the trio, subtle interaction of snare drum with sax and bass and a melodic drum intermezzo to the humorous, concise coda in march rhythm. Held together by Benavent’s thematic variation throughout. A royal cake indeed.

Sira i Xesca is a playful and hefty dip into mambo land. Añoranza, a composition by E. Granados, presents a happy marriage between high drama and the smoky tenor atmosphere so typical for classic jazz. The fact that the album’s two mainstream jazz tunes – thoroughly swinging sextet treatments of Speak Low and Mulgrew Miller’s Grews Tune – are snowed under a bit by the album’s front-running setting, speaks volumes about the trio’s skills and passion.

Surely we will see a growth on (relatively) young Benavent’s part in the department of storytelling, perhaps the least imposing aspect of the album, a carefully prepared session that undoubtedly revolves around the controlled fury of Benavent and the trio’s alert interaction. Ineke, elder statesman of hard bop who nonetheless has done his part of ‘far out’ playing during his long career, feels like a fish in the water. Matt Baker, a jack-of-all-hi-level-trades working in the fields of jazz, world, folk and classical music, contributes a forceful tone, melodic, versatile phrasing and exceptional use of the bow.

The tart, touching first part of Debussy’s Danseuses De Delphes is followed up by a meaty drums/tenor battle, the song ending with a blast not unlike one of those surprising thunderous twists in a Mingus performance. The curious but effective mix of vamp and modality of Coffe At The Almost Dead People Place is enticing. Moreover, it’s gutsy and fresh. The whole sum of Opening is just that, made all the more exciting by the sonorous and punchy sound production.

Check out Joan Benavent’s website here.

Herman Schoonderwalt The Winner (NJA 2017)

NEW RELEASE – HERMAN SCHOONDERWALT

Herman Schoonderwalt’s album The Winner just sold over a couple of hundred copies in 1964, backed poorly by the Philips label. It has now been re-issued by the Dutch Jazz Archive and has found its proper place among the milestones of Dutch jazz.

NJA, 2017
NJA, 2017

Personnel

Herman Schoonderwalt (clarinet 1-4, 10, 13, alto saxophone 5-9, soprano saxophone 11, 12), Cees Smal (trumpet, flugelhorn 5-8), Jan Vleeschouwer (trumpet 5-6), Rudy Bos (trombone 5-8), Tony Vos (alto saxophone 5, 6), Rudi Brink (tenor saxophone 5, 6), Harry Verbeke (tenor saxophone 5, 6), Toon van Vliet (tenor saxophone 9), Fred van Ingen (baritone saxophone 5-8), Rob Madna (piano 1-8, 13), Ruud Bos (piano 9), Jan Huydts (piano 10-12), Ruud Jacobs (bass 1-4, 9, 13), Jacques Schols (bass 5-8), Peter Trunk (bass 10-12), (Cees See, drums 1-13)

Recorded

on December 20, 1963 (13) in Hilversum, May 11 (1,3), April 2 (2,4), April 13 (5-8), 1964 at Phonogram Studio, Hilversum and April 14, 1964 at Cinetone Studio, Duivendrecht and October 11 (10-12) in Hilversum

Released

as NJA 1702 in 2017

Track listing

Tracks:
The Winker
Get Out Of Town
The Winner
I Loves You, Porgy
Nardis
Ol’ Man River
Speak Low
My Plea
Thema Uit De Film “Mensen Van Morgen”
Visca l’Ampurda
Cheops
Tranquillogy
Our Delight


Abeautiful, lighthearted tone on clarinet, a desire to fly off the rail gently or with an edgy twist on alto saxophone. Melodic finesse, sustained momentum and evenly developed sentences. The Dutch jazz audience knows Herman Schoonderwalt (1931-97) as one of the great musicians from the Low Countries. But that his 1964 album The Winner, which was recorded after Schoonderwalt won the Wessel Ilken Prize and has been a treasured collector’s item ever since, is that good will surprise more than a few people.

Schoonderwalt earned most of his money teaching and in show business, like so many European jazz men from the sixties and seventies, although Schoonderwalt did exceptionally well. Notwithstanding his extra-curricular activities, Schoonderwalt left an impression as an top-notch player to this day, a key figure in the influential Hilversum circle of straightforward jazz musicians who also played extensively in Boy Edgar’s Big Band and The Skymasters. The fifth in its series of Treasures Of Dutch Jazz, the Dutch Jazz Archive has done a wonderful job again, from the extensive, insightful liner notes to the remastering of the original master tapes from the Philips/Phonogram vaults. Heard in stereo for the first time, the various groups that Schoonderwalt used for The Winner and the bonus tracks (the icing on the cake consisting of Schoonderwalt and bassist Peter Trunk’s soundtrack to the Dutch movie Mensen Van Morgen as well as Schoonderwalt’s performance of Tadd Dameron’s Our Delight surrounding the festivities of the Wessel Ilken Prize) sound resonant and punchy, a real treat.

Schoonderwalt’s compadres are excellent, responsive. Pianist Rob Madna, drummer Cees See and bassists Ruud Jacobs and Jacques Schols stand out as top European cats, playing tastefully and passionately. And Schoonderwalt rises to the occasion, flowing fluently through, among other tunes, the I Got Rhythm-changes of The Winker, weaving tenderly in and out of the cushion-soft brass and reed sections that arranger Rob Madna provided for the Miles Davis gem Nardis and elevating the old warhorse Ol’ Man River to a probing mid-tempo cooker. Cole Porter’s Get Out Of Town is a highlight, Schoonderwalt’s sensitive and sizzling lines pick up the band for a thoroughly swinging ride and make abundantly clear that he was one of the finest practitioners on clarinet of his day.

A short while ago, just before the official release of The Winner, Flophouse heard alto saxophonist Benjamin Herman play the canny line of The Winker at club Pavlov in The Hague. A nice tip of the hat. Herman will be playing at a celebration of Schoonderwalt and release of The Winner at Amsterdam’s Bimhuis on December 17, which will also feature unseen footage and comments by longtime colleagues Ferdinand Povel, Jan Huydts and Schoonderwalt’s brother Rob. Recognition where recognition is due.

Find the album here.
And info about the December 17 CD Presentation here.

New Cool Collective Electric Monkey Sessions 2 (Dox 2017)

NEW RELEASE – NEW COOL COLLECTIVE

New Cool Collective is nearing its 25th anniversary and isn’t about to stop putting out classy, danceable albums either.

New Cool Collective - Electric Monkey Sessions 2

Personnel

Benjamin Herman (alto saxophone), David Rockefeller (trumpet, trombone), Rory Ronde (guitar), Willem Friede (keyboards), Leslie Lopez (electric bass), Joost Kroon (drums), Jos de Haas (timbales, bongo, percussion), Frank van Dok (congas, percussion)

Recorded

in 2017 at Electric Monkey, Amsterdam

Released

as Dox 294 in 2017

Track listing

Tracks:
La Rana
Skint
Skalypso
Villechaize
Max
Machu Picchu
Kaspa
Limakwa
Acapulco Gold
Ar Ping Talk


One album, 2017’s Featuring Thierno Koité, is still lukewarm and another New Cool Collective release has rolled off the assembly line. Electric Monkey Sessions 2 is the NCC’s 12th release in its 24th year of existence as the dance jazz band that alto saxophonist Benjamin Herman and friends founded in 1993. It’s also the sequel to the exotica set of 2014’s Electric Monkey Sessions, named after Kasper Frenkel’s studio in Amsterdam, where the album was recorded.

Eclecticism abound also on Electric Monkey Sessions 2, which comes as no surprise. Having said that, who could’ve been prepared for a tune such as Machu Picchu? A bubblegummy altpop tune consisting of a punchy backbeat, nifty keyboard line and probing reed and brass, it brings the ones who dig that stuff back to the music of acts from the early 00’s as Weezer and Tahita 80 and the ones who couldn’t care less about all this reference innuendo to the student pad y’all loved so dearly when you were forever young.

The contagious Skalypso, perfectly Doe Maar-ish in nature, would make an excellent follow-up to the single release La Rana, the uplifting cartoonish hook that opens the album. The smooth soul of Ar Ping Talk, the sensual, perhaps sexually healing Marvin Gaye-meets-Idris-Muhammad exercise of Acapulco Gold and Afro-Jazz jams like Lanakwa and Max (the latter based on a Max Roach rhythm pattern) have as a common denominator the group’s nonpareil rhythmic expertise.

Strikingly, Benjamin Herman’s commercially attractive NCC output and straightforward/avant-leaning jazz approach isn’t mutually exclusive, but rather re-enforces one another. Take Villachaize, the album’s exotic ballad and certainly a highlight, which reveals Herman’s liquid golden tone and heartfelt affinity with classic cats like Lou Donaldson and Johnny Hodges. Unbridled joy, bluesy romanticism. Electric Monkey Sessions 3 is probably not too much to ask.

Find streaming and download services here.
Check out NCC’s website here.
And the new video of La Rana here.

Sonny Clark Trio: The 1960 Time Sessions

SONNY CLARK – Great news, the independent Tompkins Square label has put out a 2LP, yes, vinyl, of Sonny Clark music. Sonny Clark Trio: The 1960 Time Sessions With George Duvivier And Max Roach is due out on November 24. It boasts several outtakes of Clark’s session at Bell Sound Studios in NYC in January, 1960, a session that would lead to the first album of compositions written solely by Clark. It preceded Blue Note’s Leapin’ And Lopin’, Clark’s swan song as a leader, also a recording that showed the fulfillment of Sonny Clark as a composer. The story of how this new release came about on Josh Rosenthal’s Tompkins Square label is surprising and has something to do with comedian Judd Apatow… Read an illuminating article on Sonny Clark and the new release by Nate Chinen of WBGO here.

Rein de Graaff 75

HURRAY – Pianist Rein de Graaff turns 75 years old today on October 24. During a career of 55 years, De Graaff has recorded more than 40 albums. Although the pianist recorded his share of outstanding avant-leaning jazz during the seventies and early eighties with the Rein de Graaff/Dick Vennik Quartet, he’s basically a champion of bebop and hardbop, playing in a style close to Barry Harris, Hampton Hawes, Horace Silver and Sonny Clark. With his Rein de Graaff Trio, the winner of the Boy Edgar Prize and Bird Award accompanied countless American legends like Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Stitt and Johnny Griffin. Many Dutch jazz fans fondly remember De Graaff’s Stoomcursus and Vervolgcursus Bebop from 1986 till 2012. As ‘Professor Bop’, De Graaff organized performances of American legends and unsung heroes as well as contemporary musicians all over The Netherlands, lecturing about the history of bebop and hardbop along the way. Musicians included Teddy Edwards, Lee Konitz, Al Cohn, Jimmy Raney, Charles McPherson, Houston Person, Harold Land, Clifford Jordan, Webster Young, Buck Hill, James Clay, Rene Thomas, Pete Christlieb, Eric Alexander, Vincent Herring, Jarmo Hoogendijk, Benjamin Herman and many, many others.

It’s not for nothing that the American legends and unsung heroes liked the accompaniment of Rein de Graaff. His comprehension of their language is unmatched and he adds typically fluent, sax-like phrasing, laid-back timing and responsive rhythmic variation. Besides, De Graaff is a thorough professional and organizer, which stands him in good stead during cooperations with contemporary colleagues to this day. A talent that might be explained by the fact that, for a big part of his career, De Graaff was also a businessman, running an electro ware wholesale company during the day.

De Graaff holds strong views about his beloved art form, dubbed ‘real’ jazz as opposed to ‘impro’, which may bear beautiful fruit but has nothing to do with the blues-drenched, swinging music that was created by black artists for black audiences, under dubious circumstances that somehow ring through. Circumstances De Graaff has been all too familiar with, sharing the stage of dingy NYC clubs with Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan and Elvin Jones as early as 1967 or sitting in with trumpeter Louis Smith in a rowdy all-black club in Detroit in the early eighties. In the view of the passionate torchbearer of mainstream jazz, this has become an endangered species, virtually extinct, yet the pianist remains on the look out for young lions whose playing retains a sense of the tradition and occasionally performs with the pool of talent still available in The Netherlands. Perhaps the ‘incurable romantic’, in the words of Lee Konitz, secretly hopes ‘real’ jazz will live to see the 22nd century.

Rein de Graaff: ‘Swing has become a dirty word.’ (Flophouse Magazine)

Rein de Graaff: ‘I approach the piano as if it’s a horn.’ (Jazz Journal UK)

Rein de Graaff: ‘The music I play comes from the smoke-filled clubs, where sex often was cheap, and the blues was heard…’ (Flophouse Magazine)

Rein de Graaff: ‘Oscar Peterson is the greatest pianist in the world, but he’s too bloody perfect for me. Boring.’ (Jazz Bulletin)

Rein de Graaff: ‘Evelyn Blakey asked me to open the door. My heart burst out of my chest. There was Hank Mobley. ‘Hi, I’m Hank,’ he said.’ (Flophouse Magazine)

See YouTube footage of Rein de Graaf below:

On fire with Clark Terry in 1975 also including Rogier Vanhaverbeke and Freddie Rottier here.

Boppin’ and burnin’ with his household friend, the bop poet and songwriter Babs Gonzalez in Paris in 1979 here.

Appearing on the Dutch tv show Gedane Zaken with Teddy Edwards in 1986 including Harry Emmery and Eric Ineke here.

An unforgettable performance of Charles McPherson in 1990 also including bassist Koos Serierse and drummer Eric Ineke here.

THE Dutch bop trio accompanying the great clarinet and saxophone player Eddie Daniels in Vrije Geluiden in 1995 here.

Playing Blue Bossa with David “Fathead” Newman and Houston Person in 1998 here.

Rein, Marius Beets, Eric Ineke and Grant Stewart do the wonderful ballad You Go To My Head in 2010 here.

The Rein de Graaff Trio with Gary Smulyan, John Marshall and Benjamin Herman, Charlie Parker’s Ornitology in 2017 here.

For Rein de Graaff’s interview with Flophouse Magazine, go here.