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.

Tom van der Zaal Time Will Tell (Self-Released 2019)

NEW RELEASE – TOM VAN DER ZAAL

Not-quite-so-young lion alert: Tom van der Zaal’s hard bop gem Time Will Tell.

Tom van der Zaal - Time Will Tell

Personnel

Tom van der Zaal (alto saxophone), Floriaan Wempe (tenor saxophone), Rob van Bavel (piano), Peter Bernstein (guitar), Matheus Nicolaiewsky (bass), Joost van Schaik (drums)

Recorded

in 2019 at Fattoria Musica, Osnabrück

Released

in 2019

Track listing

A Not So Beautiful Friendship
Favela Chic
Dilemma
Enrichment
Smile
Time Will Tell
The Ballpark Fence
The Gospel Song


The Netherlands is solid as regards to young reed and brass players that recreate the classic mainstream jazz aesthetic in their own image. Among a bunch that includes tenor saxophonists Florian Wempe and Gideon Tazelaar and trumpeters Gidon Nunez Vas and Ian Cleaver, Tom van der Zaal is one of the to-go-to alto saxophonists, a product of the rich heritage of (hard) bop city #1, The Hague.

The manner in which now and then some young birds bring appetizing goodies to the family is heartening. Time Will Tell is such produce, a contemporary take on the classic 50’s/60’s style that was epitomized on the Blue Note, Prestige and Impulse labels. Van der Zaal is assisted by the brilliant Dutch veteran pianist Rob van Bavel, bassist Matheus Nicolaieswky and drummer Joost van Schaik. Floriaan Wempe performs on two tracks. Also present, on four compositions, rabbit in the hat and one of the greatest guitarists in mainstream jazz: Peter Bernstein. Bernstein oozes taste, as clear as plain day light once again on Time Will Tell, his umpteenth performance the last decade and part of an immense discography.

Van der Zaal’s gift of conjuring up fresh rhythmic variations and catchy songs reveals itself in Latin-inspired swingers Favela Chic and Enrichment, which live in the realm of vintage Carribean-tinged beauties like Joe Henderson’s Mamacita or Kenny Dorham’s Afrodisia. The fluent pulse of Dilemma is bookended by an elegiac part that hints at both Black Is The Color and the lengthy psalmodic intro’s of the John Coltrane Quartet. The ballad Time Will Tell runs along a particularly intriguing harmonic route. And what about the snappy, uptempo The Ballpark Fence? Considering the band’s firm push on the throttle, it is appropriate and perhaps not coincidental that the cover shows Van der Zaal kneeling beside a classy monster oldsmobile. To switch to baseball terms: the band hits it right out of the ballpark!

Tom van der Zaal is a lean leopard, light-legged, makes snappily phrased twists and turns and loves his quotes, as is the jazz leopard’s wont. Including the occasional unfeigned whoop or wail, his balanced playing goes to the heart of the melody. Van der Zaal and Wempe rip and roar through the friendly battle of fours and simultaneous improv of Favela Chic, which follow up the vibrant waterfalls and drops from the fountain that Rob van Bavel charms from the piano, supported by his trademark firm and obliquely voiced chords and wonderfully astute bass lines. Time Will Tell is right up the alley of Van Bavel, European class act who is a versatile seeker of new vistas but has remained rooted in hard bop ever since he’s been part of the spectacular Ben van den Dungen/Jarmo Hoogendijk Quintet in the late 80’s/early 90’s. Nowadays Van Bavel is pianist of the premier Dutch hard bop outfit The Eric Ineke JazzXPress.

Bernstein’s intro to Charlie Chaplin’s Smile is plainly gorgeous. Smile is the album’s surprising and swinging cover song and definitely appropriate. Because the energy and palpable enthusiasm of Van der Zaal & Co. on Time Will Tell ignite a broad smile from crown to chin.

Check out the website of Tom van der Zaal here.