Dutch dynamite, or better said, such sweet thunder, on the third album of trumpeter Gidon Nunes Vaz as a leader, Carry It On!.
Gidon Nunes Vaz (trumpet, flugelhorn), Caspar van Wijk (tenor saxophone), Jasper van Damme (alto saxophone), Floris Kappeyne (piano), Tijs Klaassen (bass), Jean-Clair de Ruwe (drums)
on March 24, 2017 at Bolleman Studio, Bilzen, Belgium
on Tritone in 2017
Night Train Nostalgia
Carry It On!
On A Clear Day
Scrapple From The Apple
Keepers of the flame. Cubs and lions that devote as much time as possible to their beloved mainstream jazz of the 50s and 60s. Endangered species? Not in The Netherlands, where now and then the scene throws a number of young gentlemen and ladies out of its womb that pride themselves for being inspired to the full by Dexter Gordon, Cannonball Adderley, Horace Silver, Lee Morgan, Hank Mobley and Dutch elders like Cees Smal, Ferdinand Povel, John Engels, Rein de Graaff, Eric Ineke, Benjamin Herman, Jarmo Hoogendijk et. al. Trumpeter Gidon Nunes Vaz has, while working steadily at his own identity, carved a niche as an excellent and passionate messenger of the art of trumpet playing which heroes like Kenny Dorham (The 26 year-old, Amsterdam-based trumpeter wrote his thesis on Dorham at Conservatory) brought to the fore so many moons ago.
The title of the third album of the Gidon Nunes Vaz group, Carry It On!, states the intentions of Nunes Vaz in no uncertain terms. Terms which his peers that make up his group, tenor saxophonist Caspar van Wijk, alto saxophonist Jasper van Damme, pianist Floris Kappeyne, bassist Tijs Klaassen and drummer Jean-Clair de Ruwe, agree with utterly. As far as they are concerned, hard bop lives. It does, and should become even more vital as these gentlemen gain more life experience. They have developed into a tight-knit outfit over the years, being featured on Nunes Vaz’ preceding albums Tribute To KD and Night Life. (Kappeyne was absent on the latter) Sound-wise, veteran engineer Max Bolleman – of Criss Cross-fame – has been sensitive to the group’s needs, providing a punchy, transparant and warm-blooded analog sound perfectly attuned to the required hipness of hard bop. Then there’s the tone of Nunes Vaz: sweet-tart, sparkling, voluptuous. A good-natured tone with a whiff of melancholy. Sound is what grabs the listener by the sleeve before style comes into the equation and the sugar-meets-lemon-one Nunes Vaz has been demonstrating so thoroughly is a winner.
Besides a couple of standards – the altered melody line and swing-y beat of Charlie Parker’s Scrapple From The Apple suggests a longing to be included as a bonus track on the next re-issue of Benny Carter’s Further Definitions – Nunes Vaz contributed a number of classy compositions. The title track’s a hip, swinging tune, effectively making use of stop-time. Time doesn’t stop, though, instead it follows the tappin’ of the fingers, the stompin’ of the feet, the shakin’ off the hips, the shakin’ of everything else you got with ya, cause it’s a first-class mover. Caspar van Wijk and Jasper van Damme think alike, their blues is sublimated in sentences that strive for melodic purity, suggesting a shared enthusiasm for the great Lee Konitz.
Fifth Image is a more haunting, dramatic theme – Wayne Shorter-ish. The tremendous flow of the rhythm section is especially striking. Night Train Nostalgia’s lively shuffle is contagious, the melody aptly evokes the image of a nightly train ride in one of those old-fashioned film-noir movies of the forties. Nunes Vaz brings clarity of line, elegance and a fast and loose flow perhaps best likened to the mindset of a surf dude riding the waves on intuition and a peculiar blend of audacity and a laid-back mindset.
Floris Kappeyne, simultaneously sophisticated and driving throughout the set, adds romance to the slow-moving, moody piece Honeybee’s Lament, another Nunes Vaz original, the trumpeter’s lyrical lines providing the cherry on top. But the liveliest tune of the album might just be Renkon, a cooker that sees both the luscious Nunes Vaz and subtle and fiery Van Wijk duly stimulated by Jasper van Damme’s opening solo, which stands out for its intriguing timing and placing of notes and gutsy twists and turns. Hi-level stuff. Carrying the tradition without sounding overcooked is quite the task. Nunes Vaz has been pulling it off rather magnificently.
Find Carry It On! here.
Check out the website of Gidon Nunes Vaz here.