03 Jazz Trio Opening (SedaJazz 2017)


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


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)


in 2016 in Valencia


as SedaJazz Records DL.V1230 in 2017

Track listing

Sira I Xesca
Danseuses de Delphes
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.

Dexter Gordon - All Souls'

Dexter Gordon All Souls’: The Rob Agerbeek Trio Featuring Dexter Gordon (Dexterity 1972)

The Dutch audience caught Dexter at one of those nights, in top form. The fortunate event in the fall of 1972 is documented on the 2LP All Souls’.

Dexter Gordon - All Souls'


Dexter Gordon (tenor saxophone), Rob Agerbeek (piano), Henk Haverhoek (bass), Eric Ineke (drums)


on November 2, 1972 at the Haagse Jazz Club, The Hague, The Netherlands


as Dexterity ST 1-001 in 1972

Track listing

LP 1
Side A:
Some Other Blues
Side B:
LP 2
Side B:
The Shadow Of Your Smile
Jelly Jelly
Side B:
You Stepped Out Of A Dream

In a letter to his friends in Copenhagen from October 12, 1972, Dexter Gordon expressed his joy of touring the Continent with a regular Dutch trio: ‘Dear Folks, this is ‘den gamle rejsemusiker (the old traveling musician) letting the folks back home know that I’m ok and am defending the colors! This tour is quite fantastic; we are traveling through Holland, Germany, Luxembourg, Belge and France! It’s six weeks no, seven weeks and I’m getting rich! Anyway, it’s very well organized and seems to be a success. For the most part I’m working with the same group… Hope everything is in order. Love, Absalon (Gordonson).’ (from: liner notes Fried Bananas, Gearbox 2017) Gordon referred to pianist Rein de Graaff, bassist Henk Haverhoek and drummer Eric Ineke, a superb trio that had been rapidly developing into one of Europe’s finest mainstream jazz units.

Another excellent pianist, Rob Agerbeek, also played regularly with the Sophisticated Giant. It is Agerbeek, together with Haverhoek and Ineke, who’s present at the Haagse Jazz Club on November 2, 1972, the Roman-Catholic All Souls, a night, the pianist describes in the liner notes to the album, he was unlikely to forget: ‘Why Dexter was at the top of his game that Thursday evening in November… I don’t know. But he was! Dexter was a bit languid from the Indonesian meal when we arrived at the club. I was afraid that it would turn out to be a routine job. But Dexter helped us out of the dream once he’d set in You Stepped Out Of A Dream! He was very inspiring. And the repertoire was diverse and a bit out of the ordinary. I had never played Stablemates up to then, although I kind of knew the chord sequence’. Dead honest Agerbeek. Indeed, on the recording one can just barely hear Agerbeek answer ‘I don’t know that one’ to Gordon’s call of the tune. The accomplished Agerbeek knew enough of it to deliver a fine performance. Before signing off with the quartet’s signatures, the Indonesia-born pianist proceeded to map out the chord progression matter-of-factly. (see below) Perhaps for passionate future stablemates to study.

It would be four years before Long Tall Dex made a great comeback in The United States. In Europe, where Gordon had been living since the early sixties, the tenor sax giant, largely responsible for translating the bebop language to the tenor saxophone two decades ago, having acquired the appropriately legendary status through his Blue Note albums of the early and mid-sixties, was highly acclaimed and in demand. His output of the last few years had been either stunning (1970’s The Panther) or excellent (1970’s The Jumpin’ Blues, 1972’s Ca’Purange and Generation). On stage, provided Gordon was relatively sober, he got going like few could. Unparalleled momentum.

What’s the secret of Dexter Gordon’s strong jazz personality? There always a certain mystique as to how jazz men and women transform their particular emotions and ideas from their instrument into the sounds for the audiences to enjoy. It’s part of the charm of that particular form of art and entertainment we call jazz. Evidently, Gordon’s sound is incredibly big and clear. He favors fat, sustained notes and builds long-flowing sentences, with only the occasional fast bop flurry of notes. He’s a terrific storyteller. I like to think of his stories as an ongoing rush of waves in the sea, new sensations seemingly coming from nowhere again and again, sensations that follow the preceding ones with natural ease. Moreover, Gordon plays lazily behind the beat, creating much tension. Dexter Gordon is also a humorous player who slyly and intelligently sprinkles his stories with quotes. Not to mention an unequaled giant of ballad interpretation. Gordon’s regular ride on the tonic, a tool that weakens the impact of solos by more inexperienced players, functions as the glue between his sentences in combination with his authentic sound, storytelling and time.

Obviously, both Stablemates and Some Other Blues, which fill the first LP of the album, offer abundant proof of Gordon’s unique attractiveness. Between them, arguably the former consists of Gordon’s greatest tale, while the latter sustains the most luscious hotbed of blues phrases. Stablemates is introduced comically by Gordon as ‘Benny Golson’s Stablemates… Stablemates… Stable Mable, keep your elbow off my table…’. Gordon, firing on all cylinders, is duly stimulated by the rhythm section. Henk Haverhoek is grooving relentlessly, Eric Ineke peppers Gordon’s strong-muscled tales with well-placed, propulsive bass drum and cymbal accents. During the trio’s hard-swinging moment of truth, Rob Agerbeek’s solo bears the mark of Horace Silver’s wise motto of meaningful simplicity, as he swings with clear, percussive lines, mostly in the middle register.

The way Gordon grabs a tune by the throat, in this instance John Coltrane’s Some Other Blues, is rather amazing. He dives headlong into a solo marked by constantly interesting combinations of blues phrases and poignant rhythmic variation, definitely an auditory hieroglyph for future generations to dissect and enjoy. Ineke’s probing and resourceful demonstration of cymbal crashes and press rolls and Rob Agerbeek’s surprising mélange of funky blues licks and sneaky dissonant cadenzas, add charm to the group’s take on Some Other Blues. Interesting choice of repertory, presenting further evidence to the well-known fact that, while Dexter Gordon influenced the young John Coltrane, he was also in turn inspired by Coltrane.

Supposedly, Gordon’s vocal performance of Billy Eckstine’s Jelly Jelly was meant as a breather, part hokum, part loose blues exercise. Johnny Mandel’s ballad The Shadow Of Your Smile brings the band back to serious business. At times heartbreaking, Gordon’s melancholic sentences stay close to the tune’s story of doomed love, which was written by Mandel for the movie The Sandpiper. It’s plainly superb. Last but not least, You Stepped Out Of A Dream is hard-driving, the immediate playful variation on the theme by Gordon suave and swinging. Again, Gordon stretches out, crossing the ten minute line, and never a dull moment. Indeed, All Souls captures Long Tall Dex at ease and in top form, and the Dexterity label’s one and only album release is a priceless document.

All Souls is only available on vintage vinyl. It’s about time for a CD and/or vinyl reissue of this important slice of Dexter Gordon and Dutch jazz, 45 years after the fact. Below is the link to Stablemates, released on drummer Eric Ineke’s album from 2017, Let There Be Life, Love And Laughter: Eric Ineke Meets The Tenor Players.

They Got Rhythm

REIN DE GRAAFF TRIO & GIDEON TAZELAAR IN CONCERT – Throughout the 50s and 60s, Haarlem in The Netherlands boasted one of the liveliest jazz scenes in the Dutch jazz landscape, churning out distinctive mainstream jazz players as Cees Smal, Harry Verbeke, Ruud Brink, Fred Leeflang, Ray and Dick Kaart. Drummer Eric Ineke, albeit a prototypical The Hague-ian hardbop cat for decades now, was born and raised in the city that gave its name to the famous cradle of jazz on the north side of Manhattan, New York. Authentic jazz gradually left the grounds of Haarlem, but now the Philharmonie strives to breathe life into the patient, organizing a series of diverse performances at the prestigious hall nearby the Grote Markt in the center of Haarlem. The monicker: Jazz At The Phil. The producer: saxophonist Yuri Honing.

The Rein de Graaff Trio plus a young lion on tenor saxophone, the 21-year old Gideon Tazelaar, kickstart the season into gear. During the season, Yuri Honing will provide short interviews on stage, but the highly acclaimed saxophonist is touring abroad so instead recorded the interview with De Graaff shortly before the event to be shown on the video screen that lights up the venue with a giant portrait of Rein de Graaff and the evening’s theme of ‘Boppin’ And Burnin’. Classy view! Unfortunately, bad sound quality prevents the audience from hearing the bulk of the interview.

No worries, pianist De Graaff, who turns 75 this month, is a seasoned master of ceremonies who introduces each tune in his own sweet, informative and level-headed way: the respectful way a jazz musician should treat its audience. De Graaff, elder European statesman of mainstream jazz who played with myriad legends like Dizzy Gillespie, Teddy Edwards, Hank Mobley, Johnny Griffin and Dexter Gordon, and his two companions, including the equally distinguished Eric Ineke, are crackerjack providers of their customary recipe of ‘bebop, ballads and blues’.

This is the way it goes: beforehand De Graaff and the other gentlemen take a quarter of an hour to pick the tunes they feel inclined to play, easy does it, since the American Songbook has been in their bones for ages, and then some. A deceptively nonchalant method that makes a night of the Rein de Graaff Trio not so much a preservation of the jazz tradition, but more a passing on to the next generation, provided it’s receptive for the challenge. Innovative? Not really, but world-class and always blues-based and swinging. Besides, as De Graaff mentions during one of the audible fragments of the interview, how are you going to develop avant-leaning playing without a secure knowledge of the roots?

It’s the details that reveal the band’s cachet. So then you notice the melodic Q&A’s of Eric Ineke with De Graaff’s long-lined, Hampton Hawes-type story of My Melancholy Baby. And Ineke’s appreciative nods in response to Tazelaar’s high register, edgy wail and quote of Coltrane’s Blue Train during Dexter Gordon’s blues tune Stanley The Steamer. You realize that tenor, bass drum and toms are like brothers and sisters, share a frequency that tonight renders the usual second horn in the classic hard bop format obsolete.

There’s bassist Marius Beets to pay attention to. The successor to Henk Haverhoek and the recently deceased Koos Serierse for almost two decades now, a groover who strives, and most of the time succeeds, to find the right notes to play, the asset that one of his heroes, Ray Brown, is so famous for. And there’s the combined, hard-swinging effort from note one during the opening tune Topsy that must be a warm bath for the young Tazelaar. De Graaff’s poised statements, spiced by risky twists and turns high up the keys, cannot leave Tazelaar unperturbed. Oh, you hear him think, it’s gonna be such a night!

Tazelaar, the outstanding, rapidly developing talent who is currently studying at Juillard in New York City, charms the audience with a full-bodied, smoky sound and an alluring, slightly-behind-the-beat timing, particularly during the quartet’s mellow but driving medium-tempo groove of I Thought About You. He’s been turning into a mature structural improviser and sets fire to Cotton Tail, eating up the I Got Rhythm-changes, unfazed, perhaps stimulated, by the fact that, in 1940, Ben Webster graced the Duke Ellington tune with a stellar, genre-defining solo. Tazelaar’s relaxed posture and sly grin are infectious.

Topsy, Cotton Tail, Embraceable You. And My Melancholy Baby, which, De Graaff remarks, was already played during the ill-fated trip of the Titanic. The Rein de Graaff Trio and Gideon Tazelaar really went way back this evening. The repertory was boppified and burned expertly.

Rein de Graaff Trio & Gideon Tazelaar

Place and date: Philharmonie, Haarlem, October 14, 2017
Line-up: Gideon Tazelaar (tenor saxophone), Rein de Graaff (piano), Marius Beets (bass), Eric Ineke (drums)
Website: Eric Ineke.
Website: Marius Beets.

This Was Buck Hill

RIP BUCK HILL – Like most of tenor saxophonist Buck Hill’s fine accomplishments, the news of his passing also slipped through the cracks. Hill, born in Washington D.C. on February 13, 1927, passed away on March 20 at the age of 90 in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Roger Wendell “Buck” Hill was active from the late forties and played with Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis and Max Roach. Masters like Sonny Stitt, Milt Jackson and Gene Ammons, when visiting D.C., always asked for Hill to share the stage. At the same time, Hill worked at the US Postal Office and often was referred to as ‘the swinging postman’. He also worked as a cabdriver. A focus on taking care of his family and a strong dislike for traveling kept Hill’s career firmly under the radar. Nevertheless, Hill recorded a number of albums for Steeplechase, Muse and other labels from the late seventies to the ’00s. Hill was an acclaimed sideman with Charlie Byrd in the mid and late fifties (featured on the ’58 and ’59 Riverside albums Byrd’s Word and Byrd In The Wind) and singer Shirley Horn in the eighties and nineties.

From left to right, clockwise: This Is Buck Hill (Steeplechase 1978); Scope (Steeplechase 1979) and Capital Hill (Muse 1989)

His initial albums for Steeplechase, This Is Buck Hill (’78) and Scope (’79), are treasured artifacts for serious mainstream jazz aficionados and typical of Hill’s superb musical vision. On these albums, you’ll find a candid tenorist who tops off his fluent bop phrasing, commanding attack and resonant, clear (Clifford Jordan-ish) sound with edgy, post-boppish lines. Drummer Billy Hart, D.C. native, mentored by Hill and present on both recordings, introduced Hill to Steeplechase’s boss Nils Winther. Bassist Buster Williams and pianist Kenny Barron reflect on Hill’s personality and style in the liner notes of Scope. Williams: ‘A timeless phenomenon. His ideas always sound ageless and his sound is so big and warm.’ Kenny Barron: ‘He is a fantastic horn player. His playing is very steeped in tradition and yet very contemporary. His writing is so fresh that it’s hard to play cliches.’

In the early nineties, Dutch pianist Rein de Graaff, who arranged countless gigs with American legends and contemporary players for his legendary bop lectures and performances throughout the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s, toured and recorded as ‘Tenor Conclave’ with Teddy Edwards, Von Freeman and Buck Hill. De Graaff remembers a tour in 1992 with this stellar line-up as if it was yesterday. ‘Hill was a very accomplished player. Didn’t miss a note. He was still known as ‘the swinging postman’ which was only partly true. By then, he had a job at the office. Hill was a fanatic vegetarian and was constantly commenting on the tastes of Freeman, whose favorite meal was large portions of T-bone steak and cola. He was very down-to-earth and introverted.’

From left to right, clockwise: Tenor Conclave (Sesjun 1992); Uh Huh! Buck Hill Live At Montpellier (Jazzmont 2000) and Relax (Severn 2006)

Drummer Eric Ineke was part of those swinging proceedings. He also played with Hill in 1981 and 1982, when Hill supported Shirley Horn: ‘Shirley Horn called me in ’81 to replace Billy Hart in Loosdrecht. I was immediately impressed by Hill. He swung like mad, had great timing and a big sound. A year later, I did two nice gigs with Hill again in Loosdrecht, the first with Cees Slinger and Fred Pronk, the second with Shirley Horn, on the same evening. Hill was a very nice guy, no-nonsense.’

In short, a highly recommended player in that already very imposing landscape of tenor saxophonists.

Find Hill’s informative obit in The Washington Post here.

Laurence Fish Quintet Sen’s Fortress (O.A.P. Records 2017)

With obvious delight, pianist Laurence Fish guides his quintet through a lively market place of standards and originals on his debut album as a leader, Sen’s Fortress.

Laurence Fish - Sen's Fortress


Laurence Fish (piano), Caspar van Wijk (tenor saxophone), Tom van der Zaal (alto saxophone), Nanouk Brassers (trumpet track 4 & 10), Matheus Nicolaiewsky (bass), Eric Ineke (drums)


on December 16 & 20 at O.A.P. Studio, The Hague


as OAPR1702 on May 14, 2017

Track listing

Things Ain’t What They Used To Be
Second Time Lucky
Close Enough For Love
Ghost Of A Change
Sen’s Fortress
Eshu’s Hat
Love Is A Many Splendored Thing

The Hague has been the premier Dutch bop and hard bop city since the fifties and the town is still littered with places where musically gifted young and older cats meet. Such is the case with the musicians on this disc, who either have been associated with the Royal Conservatory or living in The Hague. The Laurence Fish Quintet, which includes the veteran Dutch drum hero Eric Ineke, delivers an excellent set of mainstream jazz.

Assumingly in sync with a gentle personality, the London-born, thirty-two years old Fish employs a lithe touch and works around the melodies with carefully crafted steps, adding creamy voicings and happy-go-lucky tremolos. A versatile stylist, Fish alternates a thoroughly swinging after hours rendition of Mercer Ellington’s old warhorse Things Ain’t What They Used To Be and the standard Love Is A Many Splendored Thing, which is marked by a sweet-tart conversation between altoist Tom van der Zaal and tenorist Caspar van Wijk, with moody ballads such as Mariposa, one of five compositions by Fish. The tune includes a lyrical contribution by trumpeter Nanouk Brassers, whose tone and delivery brings back memories of Art Farmer. And, as an astute marriage counselor, in his solo Laurence Fish seals a happy marriage between romance and ringing blue notes. Fish tastefully stretches out in Ghost Of A Change, another standard of this 59 minute set. A maximum of 45 minutes (the LP-format, I’m old-fashioned and I don’t mind it…) would, arguably, have more impact than the hour that fills the album, which, by the way, sounds remarkably transparent, spacious and warm.

Eric Ineke’s experience and expertise provides the glue that sticks together the various parts, providing spot-on accents and delicacy and fire proper for the occasion. His propulsive approach, which blends well with bassist Matheus Nicolaiewsky’s swift and firm bass playing, comes in handy during the uptempo original compositions by Fish that bring to mind the adventurous Blue Note recordings of the mid-sixties. Without a doubt, Fish writes a killer tune! Both the modal jazz-tinged Roam and Sen’s Fortress are complex but catchy themes, alluring riddles of tension, release and quixotic twists and turns, that offer a challenging canvas for the sidemen’s strokes. The outgoing Caspar van Wijk, occasionally attacking in the manner of Joe Henderson, tells a coherent story. Mildly contrasting, Tom van der Zaal’s statements are balanced but forceful. Both young saxophonists conjure up delicious phrases from the rich well of hard bop saxophone art. Besides presenting fine statements by Van der Zaal, Van Wijk and Fish, Second Time Lucky is a beautiful song that ignites a smile like cheerful classics such as Shiny Stockings.

Sen’s Fortress is a location in a computer game. Laurence Fish might play it as fanatically as your average high school kid, the pianist’s core business is making music with an enthusiastic nod to the tradition. It’s good news for fans of mainstream jazz if Fish would continue his path down the straight-ahead road, hopefully writing more avant-leaning compositions in the process.

Find Sen’s Fortress here. The album will be available on May 14.

Find the website of Laurence Fish here.

Eric Ineke Let There Be Life, Love And Laughter: Eric Ineke Meets The Tenor Players (Daybreak/Challenge 2017)

Crisp and alert drumming on Eric Ineke’s latest Challenge release, Let There Be Life, Love And Laughter: Eric Ineke Meets The Tenor Players. The album brings to life performances of the now seventy year old Ineke with legends like Dexter Gordon and Lucky Thompson, and contemporary colleagues like David Liebman and Grant Stewart.

Eric Ineke - Let There Be Life, Love And Laughter: Eric Ineke Meets The Tenor Players


Track 1: Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Rein de Graaff, Koos Serierse, Eric Ineke; Track 2: Dexter Gordon, Rob Agerbeek, Henk Haverhoek, Eric Ineke; Track 3: Johnny Griffin, Rein de Graaff, Koos Serierse, Eric Ineke; Track 4: Grant Stewart, Rob van Bavel, Marius Beets, Eric Ineke; Track 5: David Liebman, John Ruocco, Marius Beets, Eric Ineke; Track 6: Clifford Jordan, Rein de Graaff, Koos Serierse, Eric Ineke; Track 7: Lucky Thompson, Rob Madna, Ruud Jacobs, Eric Ineke; Track 8: George Coleman, Rob Agerbeek, Rob Langereis, Eric Ineke


Recorded on October 24, 1984 at De Spieghel, Groningen (track 1); November 2, 1972 at De Haagse Jazzclub, The Hague (track 2); September 16, 1990 at De Brouwershoek, Leeuwarden (track 3); May 17, 2014 at Bimhuis, Amsterdam (track 4); November 20, 2014 at De Singer, Rijkevorsel, Belgium (track 5); October 12, 1983 at NCRV Studio, Hilversum (track 6); November 22, 1968 at B14, Rotterdam (track 7) and April 18, 1974 at Hot House, Leiden (track 8)


as DBCHR 75226 in 2017

Track listing

Body And Soul
Bye Bye Blackbird
Let There Be Life, Love And Laughter
Prayer To The People
Lady Bird

It is an intriguing and a rewarding project, the combination of so many different styles of tenor playing. In his book co-written with Dave Liebman, The Ultimate Sideman, Ineke, premier European modern jazz drummer who played with numerous legends like Dizzy Gillespie, Hank Mobley and Freddie Hubbard, ruminates on the intrinsic bond between the tenor saxophone and drums: “The tenor saxophone is one of the instruments that is really made for jazz music, much like the trap drums. They are quite similar in that respect. It blends very well with the drums, particularly with the cymbal and with the tom tom sounds.” Ineke swings equally hard with tenorists, altoists or baritone players, yet the conversations of the drummer with Dexter Gordon, Johnny Griffin, et. al. eloquently prove his point. These conversations also are evidence of Ineke’s flexible approach to the manifold ways of phrasing and timing from the classic heroes and contemporary stunners of jazz.

A lot of crackerjack tenorism on Let There Be Life, Love And Laughter. George Coleman, a monster on tenor and perhaps still undervalued, sets fire to the Hothouse in Leiden with Walkin’. A tune that, incidentally, was so influentially performed in 1954 by Coleman’s band leader of 1963/64, Miles Davis, a session that included Lucky Thompson. On this version, Ineke acts accordingly, ‘bombing’ generously and answering Coleman’s staccato, recurring figures equally furiously. Fire and brimstone!

Dexter Gordon’s typically ‘lazy’ but forceful statements on Stablemates, taken from the sought-after LP All Souls: The Rob Agerbeek Trio Featuring Dexter Gordon, are kept in check by Ineke’s steady beat. Gordon wails one of his great solo’s of the seventies. Pushed to the max, another giant of tenor, Johnny Griffin, is flying home at breakneck speed on the bop standard by Denzil Best, Wee. It’s a propulsive high point of the Rein de Graaff Trio, which included bass player Koos Serierse and is marked by high-level bop drumming with a leading role of the ride cymbal. Rein de Graaff’s Bud Powell-influenced solo is ferocious, masterful, the tension is heightened by bold lines up and down the keys. Johnny Griffin is having serious fun. At the end, the Little Giant sardonically and playfully comments on the prolonged Ineke coda: “Shut up! You drummers playin’ so loud. Jazzzzzz music! Where am I, Leeuwarden? Dankjewel.”

On another side of the spectrum Ineke delicately accompanies Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, whose sensuously masculine, breathy take of Body And Soul is most arresting. There’s the clean, round and honestly emotional tone of Clifford Jordan, who plays his original composition Prayer For The People. Lucky Thompson also possessed a lithe, mesmerizing tone on the tenor saxophone. Thompson, an essential link between swing and bop, is heard on Lady Bird on a radio recording at club B14 in Rotterdam in 1968. 1968… where have all the flowers gone: the period in which the professional career of Eric Ineke, who celebrated his 70th birthday recently at The Bimhuis, really took off.

Also from that venerable venue in Amsterdam stems Ineke’s recording (including regulars from his hard bop outfit Eric Ineke’s JazzXpress, pianist Rob van Bavel and bassist Marius Beets, who also took excellent care of this album’s mixing and mastering) with Grant Stewart. His story of Bye Bye Blackbird is relaxed but driving, motivated by Ineke’s lilting rhythm. At forty-six, the Canadian Stewart is the youngest tenor player on the album. Considering Eric Ineke’s supportive attitude towards young Dutch hard bop guys as well as international students on the Conservatory Of The Hague, where he teaches, it would’ve been the cherry on top if a collaboration with a young lion could’ve been included.

On the title song, Ineke cooperates with long-time collaborator Dave Liebman and John Ruocco. During a rendition of the pretty Kurt Weill composition that alludes to the intrinsic Dixie-feel of early Ornette Coleman tunes, Liebman and Ruocco travel a similar avant-leaning path, Liebman with exuberant tinges, Ruocco more introspective. The beat seems to have time-traveled from Baby Dodds to Ed Blackwell to Eric Ineke. A noteworthy excursion to the woods from the hard bop aficionado, who, lest we forget, periodically traveled to modal landscapes with Rein de Graaff and far-out territory with Free Fair in the mid and late seventies.

Let There Be Life, Love And Laughter is a thoroughly enjoyable reminder of the swing and expertise that Eric Ineke has always brought to his gigs with incoming Americans. And I’m sure it will be a revelation for jazz fans who have heretofore been dependant on hearsay.

Find Let There Be Life, Love And Laughter: Eric Ineke Meets The Tenor Players here.

Knight Rider

ERIC INEKE – A lack of taste and decency from the officials may have prevented the Ajax stadium being christened Johan Cruijff Stadium a year after the passing of Holland’s soccer genius, they sure know how to treat their jazz luminaries. On his 70th birthday on Saturday, April 1, which was celebrated with a concert at The Bimhuis, drummer Eric Ineke, who during a fulfilling career of almost fifty years cooperated with legends like Dexter Gordon, Johnny Griffin and Dizzy Gillespie, was knighted as Ridder in de Orde van Oranje-Nassau for his outstanding contributions to the Dutch jazz realm by the deputy mayor Simone Kukenheim. An otherwise less formal evening, hosted by Cees Schrama and Frank Jochemsen, was divided into a series of concise sets by Dutch powerhouse line-ups including Tineke Postma, Rein de Graaff, Marius and Peter Beets, driven by Ineke’s trademark propulsive style in the tradition of Elvin Jones and Philly Joe Jones. Ineke’s regular hard bop quintet Eric Ineke’s JazzXpress performed twice and during the second set was supplemented with alto saxophonist Tineke Postma. De Graaff and Ineke, buddies-in-soul since the late sixties, played freely around the beat in standards like How Deep Is The Ocean, tight-knit as usual. Ineke also responded enthusiastically to Postma, answering her adventurous structural improvisations with like-minded, horn-like phrases on snare and tom. Horns-a-plenty: tenor saxophonists Sjoerd Dijkhuizen and Simon Rigter provided mature and tasteful tenor tales. The young trumpeter Gidon Nunes Vaz is a rapidly developing musician with a beautiful tone and a style best likened to forebears as Kenny Dorham. Pianist Peter Beets, just back in town from a concert of Paul McCartney compositions with Roger Kellaway in New York, clearly relishes fiery, Oscar Peterson-type takes on tunes as Con Alma. The trio with Peter Beets also accompanied promising singer and organizer of the show, Jurjen Donkers. While the first set of the JazzXpress focused fluently on Dexter Gordon tunes as Fried Bananas and The Panther, the second set harked back to the glory days of mid-sixties, avant-leaning hard bop that was being made on the Blue Note and Impulse labels. It was an absolute gas, Jarmo Hoogendijk’s Waltz For Woody and Ray Brown’s Lined With A Groove being stunning high points. Pianist Rob van Bavel tapped into his seemingly limitless reservoir of inventive voicings and impressionistic lines. During the final jam on Rhythm-A-Ning, all participants present on stage, Ineke’s hard, alert swing was still in check. The audience was delighted and the knighted 70-year old Ineke was in good spirits.

During Eric Ineke’s Birthday Jam, the new Challenge Records release Let There Be Life, Love And Laughter: Eric Ineke Meets The Tenor Players was presented. An overview of Ineke’s cooperations over the years with tenor saxophonists like Dexter Gordon, Johnny Griffin, Lucky Thompson, George Coleman, Clifford Jordan, Grant Stewart and John Ruocco. Find the album here.

Photography: Map Boon