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.