Michiel Braam: Change This Song and Hosting Changes
By Fred Bouchard
Michiel Braam's Wurli Trio
Two threesomes led by Dutch pianist Michiel Braam show this eclectic adventurer in appealing settings: glib and fleet in an electric studio setting, more intellectually probing on baby grand. Braam invokes images and sonic clips of Nether-out-landish forebears: Willem Breuker (fast-paced 'unison' segues with classical and march-band references), Han Bennink (wild rhythms, unexpected breaks), Misha Mengelberg (compositional audacity). He also often recalls American pianists - Don Pullen, Jaki Byard, Thelonious Monk, James P. Johnson, Fats Waller.
Neither band slips into extended bouts of heavy-handeness that may plague those whose humor tends toward the ironic and satiric, though the 8-bar dreaming-elephants ditty "Can Ghosts Neigh? skims close. Hosting Changes is overall smoother and more relaxed, with Dirk-Peter Kolsch's slap-happy drums more to the fore.
Five tunes appear in both sets and versions differ substantially. "Congesting Hash is a manic tango for Hosting, but a stretch-out free improv for Change: the melody appears halfway through a bumpy 8-minute ride. "Songs Each Night , Hosting's light-fingered elevator ditty á la Zez Confrey, becomes Changes' exploration of Gyorgy Ligeti's multi-octave hypnotic ostinato before they kick in the raggy theme, then scrabbly Don Pullen on the back end. "Nightsong Aches , a dirge-like chorale for Hosting with Wilbert de Joode's burry bowed bass, becomes Changes' haunted sonic cathedral with Dirk-Peter Kolsch's echoing drums and Pieter Douma's whale-song.
Braam extends his wild, woolly humor into the verbal realm, whimsically titling all tracks on both albums by ingenious anagram variants of the titles' 17 letters. Liner notes are brief, dense prose packed with musical reference. Change This Song's note is an attendee's riveting visual recollection of a vision in the club (Amsterdam's famous Bimhuis) during the unfolding of "Nightsong Aches . In Hosting, poetic phrases set in mixed capitals reflect the mutable and mutating effects of tunes - and titles.
Tracks and Personnel
Change This Song
Tracks: Angsts, Once High; Hotch As Ginseng; Snitch An Egg, Soh; Songs Each Night; Can Ghosts Neigh?; Congesting Hash; Nightsong Aches; Gosh, Ethnics Gan; Hatching Segno's; High Agons Scent.
Personnel: Michiel Braam: piano; Wilbert De Joode: double bass; Michael Vatcher: percussion.
Tracks: Gosh Ethnics Gan; Congesting Hash; Ah, Gents Coshing; Haggish Consent; Can Ghosts Neigh?; Sh, Asthenic Gong; Agog Shin Stench; Songs Each Night; Nightsong Aches.
Personnel: Michiel Braam: wurlitzer 200A; Pieter Douma: semi-acoustic bassguitar; Dirk-Peter Kölsch: drums, percussion.