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Ndio: Airback (2005)

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Ndio: Airback How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Multi-reedist Frank van der Kooij has worked with legendary Soft Machine bassist Hugh Hopper in the past and cites him as a key musical influence. Enhanced by British trombonist Robert Jarvis, this Anglo-Dutch jazz/progressive-rock septet draws upon traits of the now-defunct Hugh Hopper Band, which featured van der Kooij, Jarvis, and drummer Peter Bast. This realignment of previous roads traveled consists of improvisation, structure, and radiant contrasts. With samples, tuneful themes, and powerful rhythms, the ensemble conveys a diverse musical palette while maintaining a distinct methodology, often generated by ven der Kooij's cheery sax lines.

The septet touches upon various mood-evoking dialogues, complete with airy solo spots, brief jaunts into the free zone, and jazz-fusion type charts. The compositions are solid and memorable, showcasing Niels Brouwer's sustain-induced electric guitar licks and synth-guitar escapades. The electronics are primarily used for ornamentation, as well as a harrowing motif to round out the end of the backbeat-driven "Big Bombay. During other segments, the unit shoots for the stars via multipart unison arrangements and Paul Maassen's pumping organ grooves. However, they alter the flow by embarking upon glistening funk-rock vamps, spiced up with conventional jazz phrasings over the top.

One of the highlights of Airback is the gorgeous ballad "Mind Interception, where Brouwer's dark-toned lines are designed with vocal attributes. Leave it to the pros and you'll usually end up with top-notch quality, witnessed throughout this impressively enacted studio project.


Track Listing: Big Bombay; Last Night of the Prawns; Mr. Barn; Landscapes; Soap; Mind Interception; Stromboli; Bone; Wise Men.

Personnel: Frank ven der Kooij: tenor and soprano saxes, bass clarinet; Hugh Hopper; bass, samples (1,7); Niels Brouwer, guitars, guitar-synth (3,8), samples (6,8); Paul Maassen, piano and Hammond organ; Robert Jarvis, trombone; Michel Banabila, samples (2,6).

Record Label: Cuneiform Records

Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock


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