The picture on the back of the CD booklet for the Willem Breuker Kollektief's At Ruta Maya Café
shows a low-lying, nondescript building that looks like an old Howard Johnson's. The website for the Austin venue mostly talks about its coffee business,with some live entertainment on the side. You would think, with over thirty years on the road, and having given performances across Western and Eastern Europe, Canada, Mexico, Russia and India, this Dutch tentet would be celebrating its history at Carnegie Hall. Such is the plight of the working jazz band, however, but the music on this disc is as rich, interesting and varied as any you are likely to find.
The Kollektief blends every musical form you can imagine (Dixieland, bebop, hard bop, Ellingtonia, European classical, marching band, circus music, Latin dance and music for film and theater) in cleanly shifting, well-planned, logically coherent compositions that spotlight the virtuosity of the players involved and the mad genius of its leader. The CD is packed with over 77 minutes of music, and yet the notes still refer to the music presented as "excerpts. It's hard to imagine what could have been left out, as the tunes move from head arrangements to solos and back again in manageable lengths that help you take it all in.
Everything resolves in the closer, "P.T.T. Over a driving rhythm and rollicking piano, soloists take their turnsBernard Hunnekink's trombone growls; Hermine Deurloo's alto dances; Alex Coke's tenor wails; and Breuker's soprano raises the tense excitement to its pinnacle with squealing trills in a handoff to trumpeter George Pancras. The Willem Breuker Kollektief may not put on airs, but it puts on one helluva show.
Personnel: Henk de Jonge: piano; Rob Verdurmen: drums; Arjen Gorter: double bass; Andy Bruce, trombone; Bernard Hunnekink: trombone; Willem Breuker: soprano and alto saxophones; Hermine Deurloo: alto sax and harmonica; Maarten van Norden: tenor sax; Andy Altenfelder: trumpet; George Pancras: trumpet; Alex Coke: tenor sax.