Since her 2004 debut as a leader, Dutch saxophonist Tineke Postma has released records almost like clockwork every alternate year, with The Traveller (EtceteraNow, 2009), as strong a statement as she's made, featuring a quartet of Americans including drummer Terri Lyne Carrington
constant companion since Postma's sophomore For the Rhythm (Munich, 2005). The Dawn Of Light returns to an all-Dutch lineup for the first time since First Avenue (Munich, 2004), with the exception of Grammy Award-winner Esperanza Spalding
and bassist Frans van der Hoeven from 2007's A Journey That Matters (Foreign Media). Gigging together since 2006, this is the first time Postma has recorded with this group, which also features drummer Martijn Vink, last heard with her on First Avenue. If artists like drummer Han Bennink
put The Netherlands on the map in the 1960s with their New Dutch Swing, then this new generation of Dutch players is equally forward-thinking, but even more liberal when it comes to the palette from which they work, and the styles from which they draw.
On this largely acoustic session, which features six Postma compositions written specifically for the group, the aptly titled, tempo-shifting "Beyond Category"one of two tracks written by van Roongoes against type, mixing the keyboardist's Fender Rhodes with some retro synth textures; even van der Hoeven turns on, feeding his double bass through an octave divider for a short but commanding solo in the relatively short track's final moments.
The Dawn Of Light may have more limited instrumentation than A Journey, which ran the gamut from quartet to octet, but the greater chemistry of this consistent lineup is apparent from the opening moments of Postma's free-spirited interpretation of Heitor Villa-Lobos' "Canção de Amor." Blending instantaneous spontaneity, rubato lyricism reminiscent of pianist Keith Jarrett
's 1970s American Quartet, and lithe contrapuntal eleganceall supported with simmering energy by van der Hoeven and VinkPostma's alto solo sets an early high bar which van Roon, on acoustic piano, matches and then raises.
Postma's compositional skills continue to develop, whether it's on relative sketches like "Falling Scales," where she provides little more than a roadmap, or the episodic "The Observer," which ebbs and flows in dynamics and tempo, Postma's soprano soaring into fluttering passages that occasionally reach into the stratospherepiercing but pureleading to a stop-and-start piano solo that van Roon mixes with the occasional synth line.
Postma recently participated on Terri Lyne Carrington's all-female Mosaic Project (Concord, 2011), which deserves to give her some additional and deserved North American exposure. But as strong a performance as the saxophonist turns in there, it's in the context of her own music that her growth is most palpable. Rendering accessibly melodic music with an intrepid spirit that's unafraid to let the music unfold where it may, The Dawn of Light is Postma's most integrated and fully realized album to date; and with the saxophonist still only in her mid-thirties, only time will tell where she goes next.
Track Listing: Canção de Amor (Suite I Na Floresta do Amazonas); Falling Scales; Before the Snow; Leave Me A Place Underground; The Observer; Off Minor; Newland; The Man Who Started At Coats; Beyond Category; Tell It Like It Is.
Personnel: Tineke Postma: alto and soprano saxophones; Marc van Roon: Steinway grand piano, Korg MS 20 synthesizer, Fender Rhodes Mark I; Frans van der Hoeven: double bass; Martijn Vink: drums; Esperanza Spalding: vocals (4).