Ian Cleaver & Gideon Tazelaar - Volume 1

Ian Cleaver & Gideon Tazelaar Volume 1 (Dox 2021)


Young lions strengthen our belief in the future of real jazz.

Ian Cleaver & Gideon Tazelaar - Volume 1


Ian Cleaver (trumpet), Gideon Tazelaar (tenor saxophone), Benjamin Herman (alto saxophone), Joris Roelofs (bass clarinet), Felix Moseholm (bass), Jorge Rossy (drums)


on August 11, 2020 at Electric Monkey Studio, Amsterdam


as Dox 548 in 2021

Track listing

Love You Madly
Second Time Around
Rollo II
It’s Alright With Me
Dancing In The Dark
I Get Along Without You Very Well

Ian Cleaver and Gideon Tazelaar are like Vileda sponges. The exceptionally gifted millennials absorb all kinds of information and inspiration around the clock and, when squeezed, increasingly mature statements pour out. Tazelaar spent time in New York, graduating on Juilliard and practicing and playing with the likes of giant George Coleman. But subsequently, both friends took shelter on a tiny island at a big lake in The Netherlands, further honing their chops like Nature Boys among the sounds of the birds and fowl. Hence the brooding duck that’s pictured on the sleeve of Volume 1.

They debut as a co-leading duo on wax and besides bassist Felix Moseholm (also a Juilliard graduate and nephew to granduncle Erik whom assisted Eric Dolphy in the sixties) have recruited heavyweight Jorge Rossy. The Spanish drummer cooperated with, among others, Woody Shaw, Brad Meldhau and Joe Lovano. Former mentor and alto saxophonist Benjamin Herman and bass clarinetist Joris Roelofs guest on a couple of tunes.

Cleaver/Tazelaar & Co perform a diverse and carefully handpicked set of classic jazz with self-evident flair. One asset of Volume 1 is the natural feel for melody that Cleaver and Tazelaar share, sometimes sprightly unisono, at other times flexibly contrapuntal. Of the latter, Duke Ellington’s Love You Madly possesses a lovely old-timey, sultry vibe, featuring a bright and punchy solo by Cleaver. For this occasion, Killer Cleaver is a well-suited nickname, as the trumpeter enthusiastically throws himself into the battle with skills that are clearly not used for virtuosity’s sake and a sound as delightful as morning glory.

Best of all about Tazelaar is his relaxed articulation. Would one know nothing of his age, one would by listening to Volume 1 arguably guess that the tenor saxophonist on duty is a veteran and, no mistaking, in fine shape. His sound is warm and resonant. Collected but headstrong, Tazelaar takes on the breakneck tempo of Cole Porter’s It’s Alright With Me. Ultra-slow tempos separate the men from the boys and Tazelaar kills the slowest version of Hoagy Carmichael’s I Get Along Without You Very Well of late, a refreshing quartet effort that alternates between a flexible verse and a lightly swinging bridge.

Extra horns are the icing on the cake. The band creates high melodious drama of Oscar Pettiford’s Tamalpais, a mysterious piece that seems to reflect a visit of Ravel to Andalusia. Benjamin Herman feels like a fish in the water of Billy Taylor’s equally exotic Titoro. The capricious and sandpapered phrases of Joris Roelofs, definitely a European class act on bass clarinet, raise the bar on Misha Mengelberg’s post-bop classic Rollo II.

Any type of fowl will do on Volume 2, as long as we’re guaranteed that it’ll be in the making any time soon.

Engels Teepe Herman When Will The Blues Leave (Dox 2021)


This is the way you want your jazz: spontaneous, charged and free-flowing.

Engels Teepe Herman - When Will The Blues Leave


Benjamin Herman (alto saxophone), Joris Teepe (bass), John Engels (drums)


on June 15 & 16, 2020 at Bimhuis, Amsterdam


as DOX in 2021

Track listing

Sonny Boy
Fried Bananas
The Peacocks
When Will The Blues Leave
I Found A New Baby
Moose The Mooche
Time Was

John Engels is 85-year old and has been playing jazz for sixty years. He ain’t about to stop. On the contrary, the legendary Dutch drummer, who among others cooperated with Dizzy Gillespie, Chet Baker, Clifford Brown, Thad Jones, Teddy Edwards, Ben Webster and Toots Thielemans, swings like mad on When Will The Blues Leave, cooperation with bassist Joris Teepe and alto saxophonist Benjamin Herman. Middle-aged Teepe and Herman have plenty of experience as well. One of Teepe’s career highlights undoubtedly has been his nine year stint with Coltrane’s last drummer Rashied Ali. The multi-dimensional Herman has recently, to give you just one example, released the punk jazz record Bughouse.

When Will The Blues Leave – Ornette Coleman’s anthem that is an apt reflection of this session – finds them in enthusiastic and deeply rooted straightforward jazz mode. The record was recorded, without an audience, at Bimhuis, Amsterdam. Production is wonderful, with drums, bass and sax all sounding resonant and punchy as a unit, which certainly is a prerequisite for a piano-less trio. The set of standards include Sonny Boy, Fried Bananas (Engels also played with Dexter Gordon), Parker’s Moose The Mooche. The inclusion of lesser-known gems as Time Was (best known through the Coltrane version) and Bittersweet (a great tune by Sam Jones, immortalized on the Eastern Rebellion record of Cedar Walton/George Coleman – Engels also played with Coleman) is an extra treat.

While the quality of solo’s, intermezzo’s, group interplay is high throughout, The Peacocks and I Found A New Baby are definite highlights. Herman beautifully rhapsodizes the melody of The Peacocks, the lovely Jimmy Rowles ballad that was a staple for Stan Getz – Engels played with Getz; so by now the loosely interweaved theme of this record will have become evident. The trio is particularly pithy during the New Orleans-flagwaver I Found A New Baby, finding an exceptional synergy of tightness/looseness that stems from long-standing cooperation. Herman refers to the kick-ass version of Lester Young, an example that is hard to beat.

Hard to beat is appropriate terminology also for the real and uncluttered stuff that Engels Teepe Herman present, the kind of jazz that will likely keep it solid till kingdom come.

Find When Will The Blues Leave here.

New Cool Collective Electric Monkey Sessions 2 (Dox 2017)


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


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)


in 2017 at Electric Monkey, Amsterdam


as Dox 294 in 2017

Track listing

La Rana
Machu Picchu
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.

New Cool Collective Big Band Featuring Thierno Koité (Dox Records 2017)

Sensuous African and Latin soul jazz on New Cool Collective’s eleventh album New Cool Collective Big Band Featuring Thierno Koité.

New Cool Collective Big Band Featuring Thierno Koite


Thierno Koité, Benjamin Herman, Miquel Martinez, Efraim Trujillo, Wouter Schueler & Tini Thomsen (saxophone), Jelle Schouten, Joe Rivera, David Rockefeller & Randall Heye (trumpet), Bart Lust, Frans Cornelissen, Kees Adolfsen & Andre Pet (trombone), Rory Ronde (guitar), Willem Friede (electric piano), Leslie Lopez (bass), Joost Kroon (drums), Jos de Haas & Frank van Dok (percussion)


in 2016 at Wisseloord Studio, Hilversum


Dox 273 in 2017

Track listing

Myster Tier
Moussa Caravelle

Eclecticism is a main ingredient in the career of New Cool Collective and Benjamin Herman, the alto saxophonist who founded the octet/big band nearly 25 years ago. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that after the trademark exotica set of Electric Monkey Sessions (2014) and collaboration with pop act Matt Bianco’s Mark Reilly The Things You Love (2016), the group releases an album with the Senegalese saxophonist Thierno Koité. In between, New Cool Collective also supported the popular Dutch singer, Gentleman-Next-Door Guus Meeuwis on his album Hollandse Meesters. Which undoubtly was a bridge too far for part of the public. It kept my eyelashes blinking 24/7 for 247 days on end, but, actually, it was a most excellent affair in that popular genre, courtesy of New Cool Collective’s nimble and buoyant accompaniment. Love for all things outlandish, with no distinction between high or low-brow, is also a feature of New Cool Collective and Benjamin Herman. In this respect, the altoist has always been gladly following the footsteps of one of his heroes, the recently deceased pianist Misha Mengelberg.

Above all, the dance groove has been essential for the welfare and recognition of New Cool Collective. The prize-winning band turns many a hall and audience upside down and has been touring the globe for years. In the department of lively, both hip-shaking and intelligent music, Featuring Thierno Koité is no exception. The seeds of the album were sown in 2012, when New Cool Collective toured in Senegal and met Koité, who has been a key figure in West African music since the seventies and the leader of the acclaimed Orchestra Baobab. In December 2016, New Cool Collective performed with Koite and recorded this album of Koité originals, co-compositions and NCC tunes.

Koité is a humble altoist, never pushes a message down the throat but instead, like a grandaddy telling a story to his grandson, playfully weaves together lines. A hypnotic style with indelible timing and a dusty, small tone. Not timid by all means, but forceful in its own sweet way. Myster Tier, a lovely tune with a catchy stop-time theme and tricky rhythmic layout, finds the unpredictable Koité slithering through the melody like a rattlesnake. Squiggly lines abound also in Thierno. Koité’s alluring mix of staccato and sing-songy phrases contrast nicely with Benjamin Herman’s sweet-sour solo of lingering, liquid silver notes. If a couple of tunes navigate closely to the all-too spotless shores of basic Latin rhythm, Koité and the other outstanding contributors always add enough spicy statements to save the day. And unfazed, the soft-hued Koité rides the waves of New Cool Collective’s heavier tunes like Chega and Pambiche.

Spinning the disc alongside Calexico, Fela Kuti or, say, Ry Cooder’s Talking Timbuktu would be a far from odd listening choice for a sizzling sunny afternoon. Most of all, the indomitable conversation of Koité’s alto sax with the big band’s smart West-Afro-Groove turns Featuring Thierno Koité into another significant addition to the catalogue of New Cool Collective.

Find New Cool Collective Big Band Featuring Thierno Koité on Dox Records here.

Check out the website of New Cool Collective here.

Play Myster Tier on Spotify below.