150

Ndio: Airback

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Ndio: Airback The cosmopolitan state of improvised music today is really nothing new. Artists have been playing mix-and-match in jazz for decades, while musicians originating in other genres have continued to approach it from a host of different angles. British bassist Hugh Hopper may have started out in 1960s psychedelia with Wilde Flowers, but by the time the early 1970s had arrived, his association with the legendary genre-busting Soft Machine found the group morphing from post-Dadaist pop to edgy free improvisation—albeit with an intrepid rock-edged approach and volume that echoed similar goings-on across the Atlantic.

Still, a certain distinction differentiated Soft Machine and other Canterbury bands: a certain pop-like sensibility, as well as clearer influence by classical form, often of a more contemporary nature. Hopper left Soft Machine in 1972, and following a series of solo projects, he fell silent in the early 1980s. When he returned, his longest-lasting and arguably most personal project was the "Franglo-Dutch band, which remained together for fifteen years, releasing a number of fine jazz-rock discs, including Meccano Pelorus and Alive. Despite a variety of personnel changes, Dutch woodwind player Frank van der Kooij was a constant in this group. His own free-thinking blend of styles, still ultimately revolving around an extemporaneous aesthetic, seemed a perfect fit for Hopper's own broad-minded approach to creating unique aural contexts where looping and sampling integrated with rock-based but jazz-inflected environs for improvisational exploration.

Hopper's band ultimately dissolved at the beginning of the decade, but his association with van der Kooijs continued, and so when van der Kooijs was putting together his own project to explore a more personal atmospheric approach, Hopper was an ideal recruit. Enlisting two other Franglo-Dutch alumni—trombonist Robert Jarvis and drummer Pieter Bast—along with guitarist Niels Brouwer and keyboardist Paul Maassen, NDIO is something that could only have emerged from Hopper's continued aegis. Yet the band and its debut record, Airback, differentiates itself from Frango-Dutch projects by its more finely-detailed structural constructs, richer atmospherics, and even greater resistance to stylistic pigeonholing.

Take van der Kooij's "Last Night of the Prawns. Opening with a weighty, melodramatic theme that is pure Van der Graaf Generator, it breaks down into a brief free section until Bast's light kit work introduces the lengthy syncopated theme, segueing into a more rock-based two-chord vamp for Jarvis' solo and extroverted interplay with van der Kooijs. And all this in a brief five minutes. "Mr. Barn is initially a chamber-like tone poem until its middle section, where Brouwer's guitar synth and Hopper's bass pattern deliver a darker complexion, with Bast's brushes and Maassen's jazz-centric piano ultimately lightening the mood.

Tight ensemble work, a product of van der Kooij's broad outreach, blends seamlessly with improvised passages and a rhythmic approach that rests somewhere between rock and jazz, but never precisely resembles either. Airback will appeal to fans of the Canterbury scene—and, for that matter, anyone looking for progressive music that avoids the trappings of bombast and instead aims for texture and focused openendedness.


Track Listing: Big Bombay; Last Night of the Prawns; Mr. Barn; Landscapes; Soap; Mind Interception; Stromboli; Bone; Wise Men.

Personnel: Frank van der Kooij: tenor and soprano saxophones, bass clarinet; Hugh Hopper: bass, samples (1, 7); Pieter Bast (drums); Niels Brouwer: guitar, nylon string acoustic guitar, guitar synth (3, 8), samples (6,8); Paul Maassen: piano, Hammond organ; Robert Jarvis: trombone; Michael Banabila: samples (2, 6).

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Cuneiform Records | Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock


Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Mike Keneally Mike Keneally
guitar

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by James Nadal
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Near Life Experience" CD/LP/Track Review Near Life Experience
by John Kelman
Published: June 27, 2016
Read "Everyone Is Everyone Else" CD/LP/Track Review Everyone Is Everyone Else
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 13, 2016
Read "New Normal" CD/LP/Track Review New Normal
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 7, 2016
Read "Everybody Has A Plan Until They Get Punched in the Mouth" CD/LP/Track Review Everybody Has A Plan Until They Get Punched in the Mouth
by Doug Collette
Published: August 15, 2016
Read "Real Feels - Live Vol. 1" CD/LP/Track Review Real Feels - Live Vol. 1
by Mark F. Turner
Published: December 13, 2016
Read "No Parking Any Time" CD/LP/Track Review No Parking Any Time
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 5, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!