In The Spirit Of Joris Teepe

NEW RELEASES – JORIS TEEPE

Things are pretty much always happening for Joris Teepe, sought-after Dutch bassist. No less than three albums have been issued lately: The Don Braden/Joris Teepe Quartet’s In The Spirit Of Herbie Hancock, the reissue of Teepe’s 1998 record Seven Days A Week featuring Randy Brecker and Chris Potter and Stream’s Yellowbird, Teepe’s cooperation with trombonist Christophe Schweizer and legendary drummer Billy Hart.

Diverse stuff from the bassist, composer, arranger and big band leader who has been dividing his time between New York City and his home country since the early ‘90s, the only one of his generation that made a definite mark in the competitive jazz world of The Big Apple. A quick interactive mind, harmonic daring and fluent support are some of the talents of Teepe, who has been working in both mainstream tradition and free jazz settings. Teepe worked with Benny Golson, Charles McPherson, Eric Alexander, Tom Harrell, Jarmo Hoogendijk, Slide Hampton, Mulgrew Miller, Kenny Werner, John Abercrombie, Peter Bernstein and many others.

I remember Teepe saying something along the lines that, in fact, free jazz has become a valid tradition in itself, a well that contemporary musicians can dig for the things that they appreciate as a starting point to their creative endeavors. True enough. Teepe himself has taken the bull by the horns and, among other things, worked with drummer Rashied Ali, who pushed the envelope ever since his high-profile career start in the final band of John Coltrane. Teepe was the long-time rhythm companion of Ali from 2000 until Ali’s passing in 2009, in the words of the bassist, “a transformative experience.” In 2018, Teepe released the highly acclaimed CD/audio book In The Spirit Of Rashied Ali. Wonder whose spirits Teepe will choose to arouse in the future.

Besides Teepe, live performance In The Spirit Of Herbie Hancock features saxophonist Don Braden, pianist Rob van Bavel and drummer Owen Hart Jr. Longtime musical buddy of Teepe, lively Mr. Braden flexes his muscles, there’s his deep sound with the sandpaper edge and his pleasantly slightly ‘lazy’ beat. Teepe is glue, harmonically astute. The synthesis of Van Bavel’s layered bass chords and patterns and dazzling waterfalls on the upper keys is complete. Buoyant and eloquent, the European modern piano giant is in fine form. Sheer joy! The program of Hancock classics as Maiden Voyage, Speak Like A Child, early ‘70s jazz funk of Actual Proof and Butterfly, finds highlights in the twisted rhythm of the gutsy Watermelon Man and thudding swing of Teepe’s blues-based Role Model, both reflecting Hancock but somehow also reminiscent of the exciting Mingus/Ervin/Byard/Richmond configuration. High-level post bop in The Hague, about 30 miles from Flophouse Headquarters, where the hell was I?!

Another high-quality affair: Seven Days A Week. In the ‘90s, Teepe was at the right place at the right time in NYC, mesmerizing mix of the acclaimed and the new breed like James Carter, Chris Potter, Cyrus Chestnut and Joshua Redman. Crackerjack Randy Brecker and rising star Chris Potter are featured on Teepe’s fourth album as a leader. Intriguing, stripped versions of Seven Steps To Heaven and Cherokee alternate with the roaring Some Skunk Funk – Brecker reference. Highlight Joriscope, re-imagination of mid-sixties Blue Note avant, completes the excellent Seven Days A Week, reissued on Via Records.

Stream, brainchild of German trombonist Christophe Schweizer, released Yellowbird. It features saxophonist Sebastian Gille, pianist Pablo Hell and the very responsive rhythm section of Teepe and Billy Hart. Elusive music centered round the distinctive sound of trombone and tenor/soprano sax. Complex, at times symphonic, at times light as a feather, always with the subtle undercurrents of Billy Hart, whose Africa-tinged backdrop of Motion is remarkable. You have to let it work on you, as the compositional approach is equally important as improv. Tersely swinging though is Teepe’s Peter’s Power, featuring a killer bass solo. Stream’s alienating Body & Soul, including expertly done slower-than-slow tempo, is the must-hear finish to a record that was released in May 2020 on the long-standing and collectable Enja label.

Listen to In The Spirit Of Herbie Hancock on Spotify below.

Joris Teepe

The Don Braden/Joris Teepe Quartet, In The Spirit Of Herbie Hancock (O.P.A. Records, 2020); Find here.
Joris Teepe, Seven Days A Week (Via Records, 1998/2020); Find here.
Stream, Yellowbird (Enja 2020); Find here.

Go to the website of Joris Teepe here.

In The Spirit Of Rashied Ali

RECOMMENDATION – JORIS TEEPE

Bassist Joris Teepe has been living and working simultaneously in New York and Amsterdam since the 90s. As the only Dutch jazz musician of his generation, Teepe has enjoyed a fruitful career on the American scene. He has performed and recorded with, among others, Benny Golson, Slide Hampton, Charles McPherson, Harold Mabern, Billy Hart, Eric Alexander, Tom Harrell, Peter Bernstein, Mulgrew Miller and Randy Brecker. More and more, Teepe leaned to avant-garde jazz, particularly under the influence of drummer Rashied Ali. Rashied Ali was one of the big free jazz drummers. He is perhaps best known for his cooperation with John Coltrane on Interstellar Space. Teepe was part of Ali’s group from 2001 till 2009, when Ali passed away. His robust yet silken tone and fluid style keeps Teepe in high demand.

Now the bassist and composer has released the booklet and album In The Spirit Of Rashied Ali, a dedication to his mentor that also features saxophone players Wayne Escoffery, Johannes Enders and Michael Moore, guitarist Freddie Bryant and drummer John Betsch. The thoroughly instructive and well-designed booklet is written by John Weijers.

(Clockwise from left to right: Joris Teepe – In The Spirit Of Rashied Ali; Benny Golson & Joris Teepe; Rashied Ali & John Coltrane)

Teepe says: “You could say for me there is the period before Rashied and the period after Rashied.”

One rather cruel anecdote from Patricia Ali during her interview with Teepe and drummer George Schuller about the period during which Ali ran a club in New York City speaks volumes about the maverick spirit of the late avant-garde drummer (and Patricia!), who refused to be dictated by the whims of corporate labels:

“Rashied was into doing his own thing. He had his own recording company called Survival Records. He had his own publishing company, Ali Music. And then he wanted a club because there was no place for this type of music to be played at the time. You know, the Village Vanguard wasn’t really presenting that. So there was a lot of jazz, but no place for the Avant Garde. Rashied actually got a liquor license and so there was food and liquor. His partner Benny Wilson was wonderful. He did double-duty as Rashied’s bassist and part-time cook in the club.”
George: “And the club was exactly where the studio was?”
Patricia: “No…the club was on the first floor. There was the front door and then there was a ticket window, and that’s where the recording booth was. And then you went through another door, you couldn’t actually get into the club until you paid.”
George: “So the storefront, with the fashion boutique, is where the club was?”
Patricia: “Yes…that whole space. And in the back was the kitchen and also an area for musicians to hang out.”
George: “What came first, the club or the studio?”
Patricia: “The club, the studio wasn’t built until the 1980’s.”
Joris: “First, he was renting, right?”
Patricia: “Well, he rented both floors.”
Joris: “And then he wanted to buy the place, he got tired of the Mafia coming around…”
Patricia: “See, the Mafia kept track of local businesses by cigarette machines and by garbage collection.”
This was the common practice of a kind of neighborhood extortion by the Ma a in New York City at the time.
“So Rashied refused to have a cigarette machine in the place, and then he would take his own garbage to wherever you take garbage. And they did not like that. They broke his jaw at one point and they rammed his fingers, but luckily, he could still play. Then one day he sent me over there with one of the kids. I wanted them to see that we were a family. We had to pay $50 to someone over there. I went down there, looking very pathetic of course, because $50 was a lot for us at that time. So, we bought an ad in the local ‘neighborhood’ newspaper. And that seemed to settle the problems with the Mafia for us, because they could tell there wasn’t a huge amount of business going on here. They wanted their payment based on things like garbage and cigarette machines.”

In The Spirit Of Rashied Ali is released by Jazz Tribes. It is available on Amazon.

Check out the website of Joris Teepe here.