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.

Steamin’

DUTCH JAZZ HISTORY – STOOM & VERVOLGCURSUS BEBOP

Just for the fun of it I checked all the classic (hard) bop albums I reviewed over the past four years that featured musicians who participated in Stoomcursus & Vervolgcursus Bebop. Stoom & Vervolgcursus Bebop is the series of lectures on modern jazz and performances that the renowned Dutch pianist Rein de Graaff organized in The Netherlands from 1987 to 2012. De Graaff invited over American legends and unsung heroes for performances with contemporary European and Dutch counterparts. Almost without exception, the musicians were accompanied by his regular trio of bassists Koos Serierse (1936-2017) and Marius Beets, and the extraordinary drummer Eric Ineke.

The lectures and performances have been enormously valuable to the Dutch and European jazz landscape. De Graaff delivered his insightful introductions with understated humor. Season after season, Dutch jazz fans were treated to performances by legendary American jazz men and women that they never would have experienced in such an intimate setting would not the now semi-retired Rein de Graaff have taken great pains to locate them from practically all the States that do not begin with an ‘I’. He has been a straight-forward and acclaimed organizer. Plays mean piano too.

Here’s my check. Quite the list:

Marcus Belgrave, James Clay, Al Cohn, Junior Cook, Ronnie Cuber, Eddie Daniels, Charles Davis, Teddy Edwards, Art Farmer, Frank Foster, Curtis Fuller, Johnny Griffin, Barry Harris, Red Holloway, Clifford Jordan, Harold Land, Charles McPherson, James Moody, David “Fathead” Newman, Dave Pike, Julian Priester, Billy Root, Doug Sides, Louis Smith, James Spaulding and Art Taylor.

(Advertising poster 1987/88; Buck Hill, Teddy Edwards and Von Freeman 1991/92); Marchel Ivery, David “Fathead” Newman and the Rein de Graaff Trio 1989/90; Source: Coen de Jonge’s Belevenissen In Bebop. (Passage, 1997); Photography Anko Wieringa)

They usually performed at Vredenburg in Utrecht, Oosterpoort in Groningen and at small venues around the country. Many of these jazz greats stayed at De Graaff’s place in the village of Veendam, Groningen, where they were treated by their friendly host to a hearty breakfast and a view on the flat, wide and open spaces of the Northern countryside…

Coming season at the Flophouse Theatre: Billy Mitchell and Sal Nistico. Both Stoomcursus alumni. I’m not doing it on purpose. Those cats just keep wanderin’ through the backdoor!

Rein de Graaff

Pianist Rein de Graaff (Groningen, 1942) recorded more than 40 albums, both as a leader and in cooperation with numerous Americans and fellow Europeans. De Graaff played with Dizzy Gillespie, Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan, Clark Terry, Dexter Gordon, Johnny Griffin, Sonny Stitt, Philly Joe Jones and many others. He won the Boy Edgar Prijs in 1980 and the Bird Award at North Sea Jazz Festival in 1986. Rein de Graaff semi-retired this year, adding a salute the end of his career with a widely publicized and successful farewell tour.

Read my interview with Rein de Graaff here. And my interview with his longtime companion Eric Ineke here.

The Rein de Graaff Trio featuring tenor saxophonist Sjoerd Dijkhuizen performs at Café Pavlov in The Hague on Sunday 8 September at 16:00.

Rein de Graaff - Early Morning Blues

Rein de Graaff with Marius Beets & Eric Ineke Early Morning Blues (Timeless 2019)

NEW RELEASE – REIN DE GRAAFF

Legendary Dutch bop pianist Rein de Graaff combines his forthcoming farewell tour with the release of a brand-new album, Early Morning Blues.

Rein de Graaff - Early Morning Blues

Personnel

Rein de Graaff (piano), Marius Beets (bass), Eric Ineke (drums)

Recorded

on June 27 & 28, 2018 at De Smederij, Zeist

Released

as TI 487 in 2019

Track listing

Avalon
These Are The Things
Early Morning Blues
Dear Old Stockholm
Don’t Blame Me
Godchild
Little Girl Blue
Fly Me To The Moon
Lover Man
Moonology
If I Had You
Early Morning Blues (alt. take)
Wahoo


Yes, that’s the bad news: De Graaff is retiring as a professional jazz musician. The good news: fifty years after his recording debut, the Groningen-born De Graaff delivers a jazz album that serves as but one example in his discography of the man’s masterly involvement in bebop and straight-ahead jazz. Self-acknowledged part of a small coterie of Last Of The Mohicans, De Graaff is of the opinion that straightforward jazz is hard to come by these days. No doubt, the fruitful, pre-crossover mainstream jazz landscape of the seventies and eighties, including countless playing venues and American legends carrying the flame, is by and large a thing of the past. Yet, considering the crowds that De Graaff has still drawn post-00, perhaps mostly consisting of elderly fans but also of a fair amount of youngsters, evidently the bop master has still inspired jazz aficionados and passed the peas to aspiring musicians one way or another. I was present at a rare jazz café appearance of De Graaff recently in The Hague – the 77-year old pianist usually appears strictly in jazz clubs and theatres – and noticed more than a few young lions eager to soak in everything De Graaff conjured up from the upright piano. To be sure, De Graaff has always made it his business to feature exceptional young talents on his tour schedules.

At said café Pavlov, De Graaff’s playing was remarkably fresh and energetic. Few human beings are as composed and level-headed as Rein de Graaff, who during a remarkable career as a leader and accompanist of countless legends like Dexter Gordon, Dizzy Gillespie, Hank Mobley and Johnny Griffin also was the owner of an electro ware wholesale company. His straightforward personality is reflected in logical phrases and musical stories. However, the blues and a certain edge are consistently present. Most likely, De Graaff has always reserved the fiery and sleazy side of the soul for his horn-like piano style, which was inspired so long ago by the work of Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan, Hampton Hawes, among others.

Plenty of fire in the set of Early Morning Blues, which typically consists of standards and a couple of originals and contrafacts that are tailor-made for the tasteful, long-lined stories of De Graaff. It ranges from evergreens as Dear Old Stockholm, Avalon, Fly Me To The Moon and the unaccompanied Little Girl Blue, ballads that were transformed into bop anthems by Charlie Parker like Don’t Blame Me and Lover Man, bebop compositions as George Wallington’s Godchild and Benny Harris’s Wahoo and, finally, the De Graaff compositions These Are The Things, Early Morning Blues (The album features two takes of the down-home, supple slow blues) and Moonology.

The trio interaction is marvelous. European master drummer Eric Ineke has been De Graaff’s partner-in-swing for nearly fifty years, bassist Marius Beets is a versatile modern jazz man whose pocket and immaculate choice of notes reveal a passion for Ray Brown and has been with De Graaff since 1999. Multiple examples of the group’s striking flexibility are available, Avalon and Dear Old Stockholm being particularly enchanting. Nowadays one would be hard-pressed to find the kind of cocksure and authoritative introduction of a tune like the trio’s uptempo version of Avalon. The concise combination of drum rolls, bass patterns and quicksilver piano lines is like a shot of classic jazz, like hearing for instance, filtered through their distinct personalities, bits of Sonny Clark’s Trio LP with Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones. De Graaff’s sophisticated harmony and Ineke’s flexible approach of the beat considerably refreshes Dear Old Stockholm. It allows De Graaff the kind of freedom within a fixed set of changes that the pianist has always been comfortable with.

In this respect, De Graaff’s daring variations on the melody of Lover Man speak volumes. Right until the very end, the Rein de Graaff Trio is seriously takin’ care of business.

Rein de Graaff

Find Early Morning Blues at your local music store and De Graaff concerts. Liner notes by Steven A. Cerra.

Check out the schedule of Rein de Graaff’s Farewell Tour below. His regular trio of Marius Beets and Eric Ineke will be augmented with saxophonists Benjamin Herman, Maarten Hoogenhuis, Marco Kegel and Tineke Postma. Special guest: baritone saxophonist Ronnie Cuber.

Fri March 1: De Tor, Enschede
Sat March 2: Mahogany Hall, Edam
Sun March 3: Tivoli/Vredenburg, Utrecht 16:00 (feat. Ronnie Cuber)
Wed March 6: Brouwerij Martinus, Groningen
Fri March 8: De Harmonie, Leeuwarden
Sat March 10:Theater van Beresteyn, Veendam 15:00
Fri March 15:Bimhuis, Amsterdam (feat. Ronnie Cuber)

Pinheiro, Ineke & Cavalli Triplicity (Daybreak/Challenge 2018)

NEW RELEASE – PINHEIRO, INEKE & CAVALLI

The Portuguese guitarist Ricardo Pinheiro gets inspiration from many sources, even Ennio Morricone. But it’s the way Pinheiro and his mates Massimo Cavalli and Eric Ineke treat standards that makes Triplicity remarkable.

Pinheiro, Ineke & Cavalli - Triplicity

Personnel

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

Recorded

on November 25, 2017 at Estudio Vale De Lobos, Lisbon, Portugal

Released

as DBCHR 75227 in 2018

Track listing

Blues Just Because
Cinema Paradiso
If I Should Lose You
Along Came Betty
You’ve Changed
Conception
Retrato Em Branco E Preto
When You Wish Upon A Star


In a trio without piano, doing without the harmonic safety rings of the pianist, the jazz musician will have to dig deep into the well of his creativity. Sonny Rollins did a number of iconic recordings, notably Live At The Village Vanguard. Motion by Lee Konitz is a key album. There’s the output of Elvin Jones with Joe Farrell and Jimmy Garrison. The common denominator of these records is, of course, drummer Elvin Jones, one of Eric Ineke’s greatest inspirations. Switching to guitar players, Barney Kessel, Jimmy Raney, Jim Hall, Kenny Burrell, Ed Bickert and Bill Frisell released a number of challenging albums in their lifetime. Avant-gardists like Arthur Blythe had their say in the trio concept sans piano as well. Nowadays, even if not everybody is yelling ‘Stein go away!’, the practice is fairly common. But an affair that is interesting from start to finish, is, more or less, fairly unusual.

Perhaps their European roots are responsible for the fact that guitarist Pinheiro, drummer Ineke and bassist Cavalli find few obstacles during their search of still newer land, just like fellow travellers Toots Thielemans, Elek Bacsik or Enrico Rava. A coherent narrative runs through the whole 46 minutes of Triplicity, courtesy of a Portuguese, Dutchman and Italian who, in that order, are sincere and intriguing, sublime and responsive, strong and lyrical. They have been associated for a number of years now and have also recorded Is Seeing Believing? with Dave Liebman. The sound of Pinheiro has a metallic edge, is perhaps like John Scofield’s not the sweetest and warmest, but stands out. His playing is both angular and expressive, synonymous with Portuguese coffee, that gives one a solid kick before revealing its many exciting flavors. Cavalli is solid but he also likes to dance, placing frivolous and inspiring figures behind the stories of his company.

Ineke is grounded in the American tradition. He draws from his experience of playing with myriad American legends and a lifelong passion for heroes like Elvin Jones, Philly Joe Jones, Kenny Clarke, but is very hip and prolific, getting a kick out of cooperating with colleagues of all nationalities and ages and still eager to step out of his comfort zone. Perhaps his North-European background is most evident in the way he neatly puts all the ideas that flow around into context, meticulous like the tower controller at Schiphol Airport. Contrary to airport officials, however, Ineke allows himself a lot of freedom to color in the lines, is subtle or heated dependent on the situation, and always melodic.

Pinheiro carries the embellishments and understated passion from his Brazilian/Portuguese forebears, and also a bit of Django Reinhardt’s pace and clarity, over to his style, especially during Pinheiro’s Blues Just Because and Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Retrato Em Branco E Preto. Partly because of this, the tunes are more closely linked than one would generally assume. Retrato develops from a dark-hued bowed bass section into an angular folk romp with a cinematic character. It’s easy to imagine a little movie scene in the countryside, a tipsy old couple slowdancing in the moonlight, gyspy children playing with a cat’s tail, a woman with a tear in her eye that runs down through the gullies of her cheek… Blues Just Because is a Now The Time-ish melody, boprocked considerably by the group and soloist Pinheiro, whose integration of crunchy chords adds to his multiplex of animated lines. Pinheiro even found time to pay attention to the last chord. It’s a lurid one similar to the way Eric Clapton would, and did, end a Cream song! Endings seem to comprise something of a running gag by Pinheiro, who also finishes Along Came Betty and George Shearing’s Conception with quaint, if rather more soft-hued, chords.

Blues Just Because‘s construction allows a lot of freedom for the voice of each personality, a method that marks the complete set. Morricone’s Cinema Paradiso gets a spheric reading, the Sketches Of Spain-type tale from Pinheiro is underlined by effective counter-rhythm by Cavalli and Ineke. Cavalli makes the most of one of his many opportunities to solo on this album, speaking with gusto and emotion. Cinema Paradiso is song turned into meaningful improvisation.

Benny Golson’s Along Came Betty, the hard bop anthem best known in the classic version by Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers, is salsa-fied with, again, tasty bass and drum intermezzos and suspenseful counter-rhythm, which makes it simultaneously loose and swinging. The three voices of If I Should Lose You speak as a unit but also separately, a way of working that depends on the power of conversation, which Pinheiro, Ineke and Cavalli have in abundance. Pinheiro’s groove is contagious. His ability to stretch bars or leave turnarounds be seems in-built. Ineke’s subtle brush work is the foundation of the tune, surely an album highlight. Ineke is a master with brushes on this one, and also during You’ve Changed. Carl Fisher’s ballad is also marked by great Cavalli stuff, whose phrases during Pinheiro’s solo glance forward to his own following statements. Lithe, crystalline strumming from Pinheiro ends the ballad on a beautiful, bittersweet note.

Standards turned into meaningful alternatives, with a lot of motion. On the other hand, When You Wish Upon A Star, the Disney tune that has been performed by countless artists, Glenn Miller, Guy Lombardo, Louis Armstrong, Dave Brubeck, Joe Pass, Keith Jarrett and Wynton Marsalis among them, will never be the same again. It is not an alternative but a relentless deconstruction. A drone with shadows of melody evoking the Indian raga, it is marked by evocative Ineke/Cavalli interaction and hypnotic Pinheiro playing, which suggests a definite upbringing with late sixties psychedelica. To perfectly trim the trio’s outlandish Disney-interpretation, Pinheiro makes use of dubbed guitar and a slice of feedback. Not unlikely, upon hearing it, the guys of Radiohead would be transformed from paranoid androids to frenzied fans of Pinheiro, Ineke & Cavalli’s extravagant closer.

The rabbit in the hat of an already surprisingly original album.

Find the album here.

03 Jazz Trio Opening (SedaJazz 2017)

NEW RELEASE – 03 JAZZ TRIO

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

Personnel

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)

Recorded

in 2016 in Valencia

Released

as SedaJazz Records DL.V1230 in 2017

Track listing

Opening
Sira I Xesca
Danseuses de Delphes
Añoranza
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.