Ben Sluijs/Hendrik Braeckman/Piet Verbist: Ancesthree (2005)
Ancesthree is a live recording by three estimable Belgian jazz musicians. This is music of the deepest intimacy, a three-way conversation of tangible substance, and one that dances forward with sturdy, lilting swing. With their seemingly casual brilliance, these musicians have created a genuinely great jazz record.
Ben Sluijs plays alto saxophone on Ancesthree. At times, his long, spiraling lines might recall Lee Konitz. But Sluijs plays with a robust, slightly jagged sweet-and-sour tone that is quite unlike any other one I've heard. His improvisations build powerfully with steady, almost relentless, intensity, and even as he goes outside at times, he swings consistently. He is certainly one of the finest alto saxophonists in jazz.
Hendrik Braeckman, the superb guitarist on Ancesthree, also favors long, fluid lines of improvisation. His capacity for extended invention seems limitless. At times, when Braeckman and Sluijs improvise contrapuntally, their interplay carries a hint of Lennie Tristano. Yet Braeckman generates a rolling, steady swing that sneaks up on the listener.
Without a drummer, it falls to bassist Piet Verbist to hold this music together, which he does in splendid fashion. With a booming sound and implacable swing, Verbist moves this music forward. His rapport with Braeckman is exceptional, sometimes bordering on the supernatural.
Sometimes an album comes along in which everything is right, in which the music achieves a state of grace. Ancesthree is one of those albums.
Track Listing: Alone Together; Nathalie; Portrait In Black And White; All One Song; Rushd ed-Dunya; Sno' Peas; Witchcraft.
Personnel: Ben Sluijs: alto saxophone; Hendrik Braeckman: guitar; Piet Verbist: bass.
Record Label: Contour