Septet Frans Elsen Norway (NJA 2021)

NEW RELEASE – SEPTET FRANS ELSEN

Dutch mainstreamers turned out to be top-notch fusion funkateers.

Septet Frans Elsen - Norway

Personnel

Frans Elsen (Fender Rhodes), Eddie Engels (trumpet), Piet Noordijk (alto saxophone), Ferdinand Povel (tenor saxophone, flute 5-10), Wim Overgaauw (guitar), Rob Langereis (bass), Victor Kaihatu (bass 5-12), Eric Ineke (drums), Wim van der Beek (percussion)

Recorded

in Hilversum, Loosdrecht and The Hague in 1972/73

Released

as NJA 2101 in 2021

Track listing

Ringebu
Harpefoss
Skåbu
Otta
Mordor
Whirligig
Ah-Mooh
Ringebu II
Ringebu I
Harpefoss
Skåbu (live)
Otta (live)


At one time during the course of Norway, a session by the Septet Frans Elsen that was retrieved from the vaults by the Dutch Jazz Archive, these Dutch mainstays seem to have found themselves in a zone. It’s during their live rendition of the glowing Skåbu that a dark, brooding intensity reaches boiling point, the moody figures of Fender Rhodes player Frans Elsen leading the way and soloists Piet Noordijk, Eddie Engels and Wim Overgaauw having their sparkling say. Noordijk incorporates his fiery and lean bop lines into the fusion package, Engels plays expressive space blues and Overgaauw finds the intriguing middle ground between Sonny Sharrock and Phil Upchurch. Boiling point is partly reached by drummer Eric Ineke’s progressively intense and accentuated groove.

Frans Elsen was on the scene since the mid-1950’s, a splendid and authoritative bebop pianist but under the radar internationally. Elsen, who had amazing knowledge of jazz piano history, was one of the founders of Dutch jazz education and, feared but loved and influential on next generations, taught at varying conservatories. In the early 1970’s, Elsen was inspired by the Mwandishi band of Herbie Hancock and purchased a Fender Rhodes keyboard. His jazz funk and fusion septet was in existence till the early 1980’s.

Elsen had traveled to Norway and inspired by the surroundings written tunes which titles signified little villages in the region. By no means fluffy or floaty, his conveyance of mysterious and bucolic landscapes is grounded in strong melodies and terse rhythms. The attention of grooves like Harpefoss, Skåbu and Ringebu is held by Noordijk, who is like a bear cat, leaping this and that way and emitting the occasional screech and roar and Engels, whose fluency between registers and fire in semi-modal-funk surroundings is remarkable. AH-Mooh is Latin Nordic jazz funk, a lively contradiction in terms that is resolved excellently by the flute work of Ferdinand Povel. Throughout, Elsen proves to be a balanced Fender Rhodes player, contributing supple lines, staccato figures and decorative chords. Quite surprising, although Noordijk and bassist Rob Langereis had been part of burgeoning improv maverick Misha Mengelberg’s group and young Ineke had experienced jazz rock surroundings, how these mainstream stalwarts adapt so effortlessly to contemporary surroundings.

As a rule, the typically studious Dutch Jazz Archive produced a classy package (including liner notes by Eric Ineke) and Norway sounds clear and fresh thus should attract contemporary audiences, not least with the live recordings that climax with Otta, an Ornette Coleman-ish romp that has all soloists having serious fun and Engels kick starting his solo with a braggadocious entrance. Later on in his career, when Elsen had intensified his return to bebop piano, he referred to Norway as a youthful indiscretion. Safely said, a solid fusion imprudence.

Find Norway on the website of Nederlands Jazz Archief here.

Check out this performance at Loosdrecht in 1972 on YouTube here.

Double Dutch Delight

BEN VAN DEN DUNGEN & JARMO HOOGENDIJK QUINTET –

You get these bands from the past, when one mentions them to the other, the eyes of both jazz fans start to glow like coals on the barbecue. The Ben van de Dungen/Jarmo Hoogendijk Quintet was that kind of band. In the mid-1980’s, jazz could use a bit of spice and tenor saxophonist Ben van den Dungen and trumpeter Jarmo Hoogendijk had the right ingredients. The quintet further featured pianist Rob van Bavel. Initial bassist Anton Drukker and drummer Dré Pallemaerts were followed-up by Harry Emmery and Eric Ineke, who were there until the end in 2004.

This band was belching up vitamins. While contemporaries The Houdini’s (also a kind of ‘glow eye’ band) focused on no-nonsense hard bop, the Ben van den Dungen/Jarmo Hoogendijk Quintet veered towards progressive post-bop, the kind that was kick started by John Coltrane and McCoy Tyner and further developed by Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw, Clifford Jordan, Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, Cedar Walton etc. The contrast between the buoyant Hoogendijk and driving but more introspective Van den Dungen was one of the band’s main assets. Another asset was the fact that all members were strong personalities. The young Rob van Bavel, nowadays one of the great European pianists, was a very dynamic player. Drummer Eric Ineke was a middle-aged veteran who had played with a who’s who of classic jazz including Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon and Johnny Griffin and had a distinct, explosive and subtle style that incorporated Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, Billy Higgins, Louis Hayes etc.

Not only did the quintet duly revive the scene and influence the next generation, it also left its mark as a superb booking machine. Van den Dungen and Hoogendijk managed themselves and hung on the phone longer than the average call center employee from Booking.com. Their energetic DIY spirit resulted in a busy schedule in the region and internationally, climaxing with successful tours with Cindy Blackman and in Canada.

Eventually, Hoogendijk, also known for cooperations with Rein de Graaff, Charles McPherson, J.J. Johnson, Teddy Edwards, Afro-Cuban band Nueva Manteca and many others, unfortunately had to give up playing because of embouchure problems in 2004, a real loss for jazz. Since, Hoogendijk has been an influential teacher at the conservatory of Rotterdam. Van den Dungen has always been very active, both in small hard bop ensembles and world music-oriented big bands as Nueva Manteca and Tango Extremo. He recently released Live At Lux & Tivoli, a Coltrane tribute that features old pal Eric Ineke.

Last week Ben van den Dungen posted a YouTube link on Facebook from his late quintet, footage from the North Sea Jazz Festival in 1996, see here. It’s a great example of the quintet’s flair, virtuosity and contagious energy. It complements older footage from the same date, see here.

The Ben van den Dungen & Jarmo Hoogendijk Quintet was the cream of the crop and these guys were on par with the so-called new heroes of Neo-Bop from the USA like Terence Blanchard, Roy Hargrove, Branford Marsalis, James Carter, Wallace Roney et al. During their existence, the Ben van den Dungen & Jarmo Hoogendijk Quintet released four records, starting with 1987’s Heart Of The Matter and ending with 1995’s Double Dutch.

Our Man In The Hague

DEXTER GORDON REISSUE –

Good news for those who every year at the ‘requiem for the departed’ All Souls start to thinking again, ‘damn this pretty rare Dexter Gordon record keeps eluding me time and again…’. That particular record, All Souls, the live performance of Long Tall Dex with the Rob Agerbeek Trio in 1972, is reissued, newly remastered, on the Ultra Vybe label in Japan. Plus bonus track.

As one of many expatriates in Europe, tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon was a welcome guest at the European stages in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Not only did the Copenhagen-based progenitor of bop tenor sax and hard bop giant play festivals, he also participated in tours in little places across countries like The Netherlands. Here’s a fragment from a letter that Gordon wrote to friends in Denmark: “This tour is quite fantastic; we are traveling through Holland, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium and France! It’s six weeks no, seven 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…”.

From l. to. r: All Souls; Ultra Vybe CD; gatefold LP; Dexter Gordon’s bicycle race.

That band consisted of pianists Rein de Graaff and occasional substitute Rob Agerbeek, bassist Henk Haverhoek and drummer Eric Ineke. All Souls, with Agerbeek at the piano, was recorded on November 2, 1972 at the Haagse Jazz Club in The Hague, The Netherlands. Gordon is in excellent form. All Souls was reviewed in Flophouse Magazine in 2017, read the review here.

Eric Ineke once in conversation recounted to me the last time that he met Gordon at North Sea Jazz in the early ‘80s. Gordon waved and shouted, “S.O.S!”. Gordon did not mean that he was in clear and present danger, but instead added, “Same Old Shit!”. Long Tall Dex had style and humor. Ineke reflected that it was darkly humorous, because Gordon was getting more tired and burned out at the latter stage of his life.

Find All Souls on Ultra Vybe here. Distribution from The Netherlands is scheduled for this year. And good luck with the vintage vinyl hunt, of course.

Pinheiro Ineke Cavalli Turn Out The Stars (Challenge 2021)

NEW RELEASE – PINHEIRO INEKE CAVALLI

Tight-knit guitar trio Pinheiro Ineke Cavalli refreshes the work of piano legend Bill Evans.

Pinheiro Ineke Cavalli - Turn Out The Stars

Personnel

Ricardo Pinheiro (guitar), Massimo Cavalli (bass), Eric Ineke (drums)

Recorded

on November 8, 2019 at Atlantico Blue Studios, Lisbon

Released

as CR 73523 in 2021

Track listing

You Must Believe In Spring
Peri’s Scope
Turn Out The Stars / Time Remembered
Very Early
Interplay
Waltz For Debby
Some Other Time


Versatile Portuguese guitarist Ricardo Pinheiro, also a Psychology Graduate, is a keen interpreter of the jazz songbook and sustains a fascinating career that includes both fusion and the serene soundscapes of Caruma. His veteran Dutch colleague Eric Ineke has been there and done that and regardless of the age of 73 succeeds at continuously deepening his drum style. The trio is completed by Massimo Cavalli, harmonically refined bass player from Italy with a forceful, resonant sound. These gentlemen met in Lisbon and have already cooperated with Dave Liebman on Is Seeing Believing? (note the continuity of sleeve design) in 2016 and released their debut album Triplicity in 2019.

Swell and challenging idea, Bill Evans project. Unanimous decision by Pinheiro Ineke Cavalli, which alertly, tastefully and full of surprising details adheres to the piano giant’s far-reaching democratic principle of doing justice to every personality in the band. Very “Evans” as well: refined lightness that almost evokes weightlessness, which is a feeling that the internationally diverse trio brings to the fore very well while retaining its own authoritative identity.

A spacious and ephemeral sound and an angular but lyrical style, tagged by sleazily bended notes, are Pinheiro’s strong points. He’s convincing without superfluous exclamation marks. With bountiful calmness of line. And truly inventive at deepening Leonard Bernstein’s Some Other Time and medley Turn Out The Stars/Time Remembered with melodically astute use of echo, tone and volume control. The latter features Pinheiro working off the increasingly intense free forms of Ineke and Cavalli. Electric sheep jump fences. Silver apples seek the rising sun. Munchkins talk to the wind. Time went back to the future. Seldom if ever have we heard Bill Evans interpreted this way.

The conversational figures of the boppish Peri’s Scope, mix of cubist chords and rustling drum patterns of Michel Legrand’s You Must Believe In Spring, marvelous alternation of pizzicato and arco bass during Very Early and Ineke’s melodious solo lessons of simplicity during Interplay – indeed a very interactive performance – are snappy details in support of a layered whole. Simultaneously homage and stepping-stone for a new chapter in its suspenseful book, Turn Out The Stars finds Pinheiro Ineke Cavalli at the top of its game.

Find Turn Out The Stars here.

Joan Benavent Sunrise (SedaJazz 2020)

NEW RELEASE – JOAN BENAVENT

South and North-West meet on Sunrise, the latest release from Joan Benavent, killer saxophonist from Spain.

 

Joan Benavent - Sunrise

Personnel

Joan Benavent (tenor saxophone), Pep Zaragoza (trumpet), Bart van Lier (trombone), Miguel Rodriguez (piano), Steven Zwanink (bass), Eric Ineke (drums)

Recorded

in 2020 at Studio Smederij, Zeist

Released

as SedaJazz 095 in 2020

Track listing

Sunrise
El Bancal de la Serp
Skylark
Mean To Me
Tres Voltes Maria
El Ogro Grogro
Body And Soul
What Is This Thing Called Love


Sunrise. Yes, the sun also rises. In Valencia, sensuous city on the East Coast of Spain, residence of tenor saxophonist Joan Benavent. The sun looms behind Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, Valencia’s major modern sight. Ten-minute drive to the hospital in lockdown streets, but suddenly the stormy horn calls on the muse. A trumpet sizzles, a trombone giggles. They slide into a layered groove: propellent bass, snare rolls and subtle accents on the cymbal that tickle a frivolous toddler. Least until sunset, the silenced city is alive.

Benavent will not be caught watching the paint dry. Big, broad, full sound, fluent stories checked with luminous scales, like sailboats in the moonlight hurrying from buoy to buoy. Technique that backs up his claim. Benavent is assisted by trumpeter Pep Zaragoza, trombonist Bart van Lier, pianist Miguel Rodriguez, bassist Steven Zwanink and drummer Eric Ineke. Spanish Armada, Dutch Delight. Special rapports breed successful projects and connaisseurs of European jazz will notice the variety of past alliances of this particular line-up.

Sunrise follows up Opening, which featured Eric Ineke, one of his mentors in Valencia and The Hague. Opening (under the banner of O3 Jazz Trio) signified a couple of journeys to the outskirts of mainstream jazz. Sunrise picks up on that vibe: the chord-heavy title track, the oblique progression of El Ogro Grogro, the sweeping Coltrane-ish intro, duality of tension and release and the hip and heavy climax of the Latin-tinged El Bancal de la Serp, which may serve as a contemporary European update of the kick-ass Woody Shaw bands of the ‘70s.

Standard time. Body And Soul may not leave an unforgettable impression but Benavent’s less-is-more approach is a welcome diversion and Miguel Rodriguez adds a peppery and wide-ranging tale. Benavent sweetly and dynamically whispers Skylark and the band swings What Is This Thing Called Love to the ground. It pimps Mean To Me, immortalized by Billie Holiday, which is marked by spicy simultaneous blowing by Benavent and Van Lier and the steam train energy of Zwanink and Ineke.

How lovely to have the opportunity to hear trombonist Bart van Lier in a small band setting on record again. Rare occasion. The ephemeral colors of the European trombonist par excellence, head slide trombonist in the Metropole Orchestra and studio pro since ages, mingle neatly with brownstone Benavent and sunny Zaragoza. Tart, swirling exclamations mark his elegant and frivolous journeys through ballad, standard and post-bop. He can do anything on the horn and makes it sing. Master at work.

Master stroke to have this man join an already fine session of European mainstream jazz.

Joan Benavent

Curious, I asked Joan for a translation of some of the titles of his original compositions. Titles reveal something about the feeling and vibe musicians want to convey.

Benavent explains: “El Bancal de la Serp means snake’s field. It’s about a field on the outskirts of my village and the myth of an immense snake that could be found thereabout. Obviously we never got to see it, but as kids we glanced every once in a while and our minds made up the rest to the point that sometimes we would really see a bit of the snake, haha. In the end, for me and my friends this was a matter of overcoming our fears. Now I keep feeding the myth by telling the snake’s story to my daughter and nieces and it is so nice to see how they do well, fighting against their fears, because every time we have a countryside walk around that area, they are so curious to approach and see if they can find the big snake. For me it is important to see them overcoming their fears and that’s why I thought to write a tune about it.”

El Ogro Grogro was a bedtime story that my aunt used to tell me when I was very young. The story talks about a princess that marriages an ogre against the will of her family. He ends up being accepted by everybody by saving some locals performing some brave acts. This story was a beginning for me to understand that the important part of a person lies inside and that you can’t judge a book by looking at the cover.”

Timeless stories and Benavent and his group did well to convey the sentiment.

Find Sunrise on Bandcamp here.

The Eric Ineke JazzXPress - What Kinda Bird Is This?

The Eric Ineke JazzXpress What Kinda Bird Is This? (Challenge 2020)

NEW RELEASE – THE ERIC INEKE JAZZXPRESS

As usual, The Eric Ineke JazzXpress goes full steam ahead, bringing home the music of Charlie Parker in refreshing manner on What Kinda Bird Is This?

The Eric Ineke JazzXPress - What Kinda Bird Is This?

Personnel

Eric Ineke (drums), Ian Cleaver (trumpet), Sjoerd Dijkhuizen (tenor saxophone), Tineke Postma (alto saxophone), Peter Beets, Rein de Graaff & Rob Agerbeek (piano), Marius Beets (bass)

Recorded

on June 22 & 23 and July 6, 2020 at Studio De Smederij, Zeist, The Netherlands

Released

as CR 73512 in 2020

Track listing

Tracks:
Relaxin’ At Camarillo
Steeplechase
Lover Man
Birdie Num Num
Ah-Leu-Cha
Parker’s Mood
What Kinda Bird Is This?
Just Friends
Merry Go Round
Bongo Beep
Stupendous
Au Privave


IIf the sign of true genius is the spontaneous response to catastrophic circumstances, Charlie Parker’s Dial recording of Lover Man in 1947 is number one with a bullet. It gave rise to a confusing mix of shock and adulation from the start. In the middle of a bad trip and on the verge of a nervous breakdown, Parker shaped an emotionally charged story with instinctive revisions of his faltering phrases. Parker was horrified by the release of the record. Shortly afterwards, Parker was admitted to Camarillo Mental State Hospital in California. His release from the asylum inspired a new original composition, Relaxin’ At Camarillo.

Both Lover Man and Relaxin’ At Camarillo are interpreted (quite impressively) on What Kinda Bird Is This? by The Eric Ineke JazzXpress, one of the most swinging contemporary tributes to Charlie “Yardbird” Parker, inventor of bebop, genius of modern music, whose 100th Birthday was celebrated worldwide on August 29. Ineke, veteran Dutch drummer who played with Dexter Gordon, Dizzy Gillespie, Johnny Griffin and Jimmy Raney, amongst many others, and is an acclaimed teacher at European conservatories and inexaustible (hard) bop ambassador on and off-stage, has released eight records as leader of The JazzXpress since 2006. On What Kinda Bird Is This?, Ineke is joined by his regular bassist Marius Beets, pianists Peter Beets, Rein de Graaff and Rob Agerbeek – all of whom substituted for the (temporarily) ailing Rob van Bavel – trumpeter Ian Cleaver, tenor saxophonist Sjoerd van Dijkhuizen and alto saxophonist Tineke Postma.

The band’s refurbishment of Parker in its own image is underlined by nifty arrangements by Marius Beets, Dijkhuizen and Van Bavel. Relaxin’ At Camarillo (Van Bavel) sounds like the sort of tune that would not have been out of place on Blakey’s Ugetsu or one of John Coltrane’s Atlantic records. It uncoils mischieviously, like a snake, through firm choruses of modality and various shadings of the melody, climaxing with Parker’s indelible long line. An intriguing version that furthermore swings like mad.

At the other end of the spectrum, Lover Man is a playground for Tineke Postma in the trio format. Her long, constantly lively story is a balancing act of tuneful phrases and clusters of notes that burst out of the changes en route to the outskirts of the Milky Way. Wordly wisdom seems to have increasingly pervaded her style, to the point where sour grapes are transformed into a splendid bottle of Chateau du Charles Lloyd. The wine manages to call a definite feeling of melancholy. Postma, highly engaging throughout the record, devours the other trio cut, Au Privave, a concise progressive reworking of Parker’s blues line that reflects the rapport she has built up the last few years with Ineke, whose matchless timing and alert interplay stems from decades of experience. At age 73, the pater familias of The Hague’s mainstream jazz scene is at the top of his game.

Sjoerd Dijkhuizen, always willing to share his penchant for Dexter Gordon-type phrasing, nails Birdie Num Num, Marius Beets’s variation on Parker’s Confirmation. Beets’s What Kinda Bird Is This? features witty lines by young lion Ian Cleaver, who impresses with bright, fearless notes in the upper register, and a virtuoso exercise by “Brother” Peter Beets, whose ability to swing a band into the ground is one of the virtues that won him international acclaim. Parker’s Mood is perfect foil for Rein de Graaff, long-time companion of Ineke and comfortable in a slow blues vein.

Affinity with lesser-known Parker compositions – Stupendous, Bongo Beep, Merry Go Round; the dizzying effect of the latter’s variation on I Got Rhythm is in sync with the title – is yet another interesting aspect of What Kinda Bird Is This? This ‘Bird’ is a triumphant continuation of form by the Eric Ineke JazzXpress, which for this occasion is a configuration of individuals that assert themselves with authority in the setting of Parkeriana.

The Doug Webb Trio Doug Webb In Holland (Daybreak 2019)

NEW RELEASE – DOUG WEBB TRIO

Doug Webb strives for structural perfection on his latest release with bassist Marius Beets and drummer Eric Ineke, Doug Webb In Holland.

The Doug Webb Trio - Doug Webb In Holland

Personnel

Doug Webb (tenor saxophone), Marius Beets (bass), Eric Ineke (drums)

Recorded

on November 20, 2018 at Studio De Smederij, Zeist

Released

as DBCHR 75228 in 2019

Track listing

254W. 82rd Street
Subconscious-Lee
Delilah
Invitation
Alexico
Ornithology
Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most
These Things
Get Out Of Town
Lunar Eclipse


Fashions, hypes, Indian ropes and hoo-ha about spiritual jazz drift past the consciousness of players like tenor saxophonist and woodwind player Doug Webb. That is, of course, because the Angeleno undoubtedly understands that to label jazz as spiritual is a contradiction in terms. By nature, jazz of any kind is a matter of the spirit. And it is, foremost, because Webb has for decades been steadily refining his art of mainstream jazz, undisturbed and very prolifically.

Webb played with Horace Silver, Freddie Hubbard, Shelly Manne, Bill Holman and Stanley Clarke. He’s a real pro that was part of the Doc Severinsen Tonight Show band and is an omnipresent contributor to pop music and Hollywood soundtracks. Webb is a passionate woodwind specialist that plays, among others, piccolo, soprillo, saxello, sarrusophone and pretty much any flute with exotic name and characteristic he can put his hands on. As a tenor saxophonist, Webb contributes a fresh approach to the Coltrane tradition.

I coincidentally saw Webb perform at a session in Pavlov, The Hague in November, 2018 that included pianist Rein de Graaff, bassist Marius Beets and drummer Eric Ineke. That night Webb explained that before returning to L.A. he would collect a contra alto flute and subcontra bass flute from an acclaimed flute maker in the little town of Grollo in the province of Drenthe. The day after the gig, Webb, Beets and Ineke went into the studio of Beets in Zeist to record Doug Webb In Holland.

It turned out to be a rewarding session of piano-less trio jazz. Webb selected Lee Konitz’ Subconscious-Lee, Victor Young’s Delilah, Kaper/Webster’s Invitation, Charlie Parker/Benny Harris’ Ornitology, Wolf/Landesman’s Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most, Cole Porter’s Get Out Of Town and contributed four original compositions: lovely swinger 254W. 82nd Street, nifty boogaloo blues Alexico, All The Things You Are-variation These Things and Lunar Eclipse, which is based on Webb’s earlier tune Lunar – which was based on Solar, the composition that Miles Davis reportedly nicked from guitarist Chuck Wayne.

Rarely short of ideas, with the structured control of rhythm and harmony that brings to mind Warne Marsh, Webb revels in the company of two great companions. Ineke’s ability to translate his wealth of experience and massive knowledge of jazz history to sensitive and alert accompaniment is nonpareil. Beets’ choices of notes are spot-on and he takes a lot of melodic turns from low to upper register and vice versa. As a result, Delilah, featuring Beets on acoustic bass instead of double bass and Ineke with mallets, is a cushion-soft gem, beautified by Webb’s almost childlike lyricism. The mix of Webb’s witty statements and Ineke’s hard-swinging brushes of Ornitology and the probing, intriguing phrases – and paraphrases – that Webb spins on the gulf of ride cymbal and pulsing bass during These Things constitute but a few of In Holland’s highlights.

Webb has a lot of experience of playing and recording in the piano-less format. It worked out beautifully. Webb fills the unfolding space that is created by the absence of the piano with inexhaustible strings of lines. Here and there, a gravely microtone or valve effect is thrown in the equation, measured dots on the sentences of Webb’s concise stories. Webb has plenty of muscle but demonstrates the masterly wisdom of restraint. His layered poetry makes In Holland a serene experience, as if you’re listening to falling autumn leaves. Ineke and Beets sweep up the rustling leaves, gather the beautiful copies and arrange a pretty bouquet.