Leo Cuypers: Heavy Days Are Here Again
Originally issued on Breuker’s Bvhaast label the title of this disc has several permutations among them a reference to the realities of Reaganomics, and a putting to rest of past squabbles between the musicians. On a less allegorical level this disc delivers four of the guiding lights in Dutch jazz in synergistic collusion. Given the players’ usual predilections for freer sounds there’s plenty of ebullient playing on hand, but the majority of pieces have surprising melodically tethered centers. Cuypers wastes no time trundling out his keyboard facility and his fast and furious work on the title track presages much of the magic that follows. On the translation-defying ‘Als dat de olifant’s tand,’ he sounds almost Vince Guaraldish, but Breuker’s blustery tenor spouts ensure that the piece never settles into the sedate.
Bennink’s prismatic traps play lightens the otherwise somber “Misha,” a piece dedicated to Dutch pianist Mengelberg, but the lyrical shift is short as “Be-Bach” returns things to a buoyantly upbeat mood via a piebald Monkish theme and a portly protracted solo from Gorter. The smoky lens of Breuker’s clarinet and Bennink’s precision press rolls converge on “Blue Tango” evoking dusky Argentine sunsets and signaling that the end is nigh. “Couperin” starts out as something of the odd track out melding pre-recorded speech samples to Bennink’s unctuous trombone before detonating into a glorious collective improvisation and suddenly the disc is over. In the liners Cuypers makes the self-deprecating claim that the group’s live recordings were far superior to their studio dates. Listening to the stirring sonic snapshots recorded (and now thankfully reissued) here for posterity it’s a shame those concerts weren’t documented also.
Track Listing: Happy Days/ Als dat de olifant
Personnel: Leo Cuypers- piano; Willem Breuker- saxophones, Bb clarinet; Han Bennink- drums, C-Melody saxophone, trombone; Arjen Gorter- bass.