Before We Say Goodbye To 2012
It is, perhaps unfair to continue to draw comparisons of Eric Boeren's Quartet to that of Ornette Coleman's circa. 1960. Sure the piano-less quartet, founded in 1979, covered primarily Coleman's music and indeed, Boeren plays a cornet, the same type fancied by Don Cherry. In the years since, their evolution has yielded a distinct musical personality.
Coined by journalist Kevin Whitehead, the term "New Dutch Swing" is a befitting descriptor. The release of Coconut follows Song For Tracy The Turtle (Clean Feed, 2010) another live date with drummer Paul Lovens. Where the latter was recorded in 2004, Coconut was made in the Netherlands in June 2012. And, probably more significant, the heart-and-soul of the band, drummer Han Bennink is back in the drum chair. Rounding out the original line up is American expatriate Michael Moore (saxophones) and bassist Wilbert de Joode. This exceptionally well-recorded live date finds Bennink playing a single snare drum. Which, of course, is more than enough for him to command his brand of mayhem. Boeren penned eight of the eleven tracks, the band covering two Ornette Coleman tunes, "Little Symphony" and "Joy Of A Toy," plus Booker Little's "BeeTee's Minor Plea." Never mind the heady intellectual nature of jazz today, this quartet favors a relaxed swing fueled by Bennink and the ongoing conversation between players. Moore tends to finish Boeren's thoughts and de Joode is spurred by Bennink to change direction and tempo throughout. Their playing calls to mind rapid fire comedians who barely pause to allow their audience to catch the last joke.
The Claire Daly Quartet
North Coast Brewing Co
Baritone saxophonist Claire Daly's salute to jazz legend Thelonious Monk is an unrepentant delight. Certainly, there have been hundreds of Monk tribute recordings, but Daly's undertaking is quite special. Recorded for North Coast Brewing, makers of the aptly named Brother Thelonious ale, this disc and the previous Brother Thelonious Quintet (North Coast, 2009) with Ambrose Akinmusire donate all proceeds of discs sales to The Thelonious Monk Institute Of Jazz.
Daly's take on Monk pairs the familiar, Monk's "Teo," "Ruby, My Dear," and "Pannonica" with the obscure, "Green Chimneys," "Two Timer," and "Brake's Sake." But even the familiar is renewed by way of Daly's baritone. Although Monk did work with baritone players (Pepper Adams and Gerry Mulligan come to mind), Daly's presence is emphatic. She brings a comfortable swing to the tunes like a blanket of snow that quiets a busy city. With pianist Steve Hudson, bassist Mary Ann McSweeney, and drummer Peter Grant, the eleven selections are delivered almost effortlessly by the band. Highlights include a poignant "Light Blue" with Daly in conversation with McSweeny's bowed bass, "Bright Missisppi" that skips and plops some energized bebop, and the tangled "Let's Cool One." Hudson, although at the piano chair, eschews any direct Monk references, instead sticking to contextual playing, a little slow stride on "Green Chimneys" and deft maneuvering of theme on "52nd Street Theme." Daly swaps saxophone for flute for "Pannonica" and a bit of vocals with the closer, "Holiday MedleyA Merrier Christmas/Stuffy Turkey."
One of saxophonist Ken Vandermark's earliest Chicago collaborations was in DKV Trio with drummer Hamid Drake and bassist Kent Kessler. While the trio has not released a recording in ten years, the last being Trigonometry (Okka Disc, 2002), this limited edition box set certainly makes up for lost time. The seven disc, nearly 6.5 hours of music documents the band from a (sort of reunion) show recorded 2008 in Sardinia, through an appearance in Chicago 2011. Naysayers and traditionalists might suggest an editor or producer might have pared these seven discs down to a more manageable two- disc set. One which would have been more marketable, and thus consumed by a larger audience. If you follow the theory out, maybe 30 years from now, this lengthy 'complete session' could be released as an archival 'find.'
But then that is not how Vandermark operates. Past Present fits nicely on the shelf with such behemoths as his 12-cd Vandermark 5 Alchemia (Not Two, 2005) and the 10-cd Resonance (Not Two, 2009).
This full immersion style of consumption is not just for Grateful Dead or Fugazi fans any more. Vandermark, and his musical guardian angel Marek Winiarski of Poland's Not Two Records (like Bruno Johnson of Okkadisc before him) believe more is better. Agree, or disagree this box set is a juggernaut of improvised sound making.