Marvelously atmospheric flute-fronted jazz from the Netherlands. Lotz is a flautist of considerable promise, with an approach that’s clearly rooted in the classics but intimately familiar with the jazz canon. His prior projects included world music and the avant-garde, but here Lotz sticks mostly to American and Brazilian fare with charming results.
The disc opens with the exotic rhythms of Duke Ellington’s “Pyramid”, as Lotz’ flute lilts ethereally over Ben Schroder’s caravan pulse, Sander Tekelenburg’s almost subconscious bass, and Erik Doelman’s restrained piano. Lotz bears the merest hint of Eric Dolphy’s edgy tone throughout the disc, but his sound is generally marked by classical beauty. This quartet also performs on flute master Lew Tabackin’s waltz “Desert Lady”, which has a similar Saharan affect balanced by a boppish lope.
The remaining selections feature Lotz in the company of bassist Marius Beets, pianist Peter Beets and drummer Wim Kegel. Though the North African vibe is absent from these tunes, the level of performance is much the same. Like many jazz flautists, Lotz focuses on gentle songs that caress and cajole even in their most vigorous moments. “Indian Summer”, Duke’s “Starcrossed Lover”, the bossa “Voce” and the mysterious “Harlem Nocturne” exemplify Lotz’ warm but distanced air. His charming, heavily Dutch-accented vocal on “This Is Always” is as gentle and pillowy as his flute playing, paying no small dues to Chet Baker. Lotz and company do let it all hang out on a breakneck rendition of Jorge Ben’s classic “Mas Que Nada”, with a sharp solo by Peter Beets.
Overall, Blue Moods is one of the most satisfying flute-jazz offerings in recent memory. While Lotz doesn’t entirely elevate the long, slim horn to a new level in jazz, he certainly paints a bright portrait of its colorful history and potential in the music.
Personnel: Mark Alban Lotz, concert flute, alto flute and vocals; Peter Beets and Erik Doelman (tracks 1 and 8), piano; Marius Beets and Sander Tekelenburg (tracks 1 and 8), acoustic bass; Wim Kegel and Ben Schroder (tracks 1 and 8), drums.