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Michiel Stekelenburg: Catharsis


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Michiel Stekelenburg: Catharsis
Dutch guitarist Michiel Stekelenburg is also a composer and educator known for his contributions to the jazz genre, though his origins in rock music significantly influence both his playing and compositions. His versatility as a session guitarist has seen him being a member of several pop and soul bands, alongside leading his own jazz and improvisational projects. On Catharsis, he emerges as a seasoned alchemist while consolidating his innermost feelings into a potent elixir of sound.

The album opens with "As One," a musical invocation that beckons us to join this sonic pilgrimage. Stekelenburg's guitar weaves intricate patterns, like a spider spinning its silken web across the dawn sky. Trumpeter Tom Ridderbeekx's soft proclamations set the stage, establishing the primary theme that slightly intensifies with punchy choruses, leading to Stekelenburg's gorgeously constructed solo, transcended by an emphatic horn chart. The rhythm section, led by Jasper van Hulten 's drumming, propels us forward—a heartbeat synchronized with the universe. As bassist Thomas Pol, provides grooves that are both a launchpad and a safety net for the leader's explorations.

The title track, "Catharsis," is a storm of emotions unleashed. Sam Thomas's bass lines surge like tidal waves, crashing against the shores of our consciousness. Saxophonist Thomas Pol builds tension, and pianist Sjoerd van Eijck provides counterpoint as the guitarist circumnavigates the primary theme during his mid-toned soloing, where matters transform into a powerful yet enchanting jazz fusion episode.

"Flow" meanders like a mountain stream. On this track, Stekelenburg's guitar work is a meditation—a bridge between the mundane and the sublime. Close your eyes, and you might glimpse the universe dancing in the ripples. Whereas "Morning Song" is a sun-kissed reverie and a reminder that joy resides in simplicity.

"Chasing Shadows" tiptoes on the edge of irony. Sjoerd van Eijck's saxophone flirts with uncertainty, teasing us like a mischievous goblin atop a swelling melody. Moreover, Stekelenburg goes for the gusto with a touch of distortion, dishing out complex chords and rapid single-note lines, contrasted by Sam Thomas' brash trombone phrasings and the bop-fused horn passages.

Michiel Stekelenburg invites us to explore our emotional landscapes. This is not merely an album; it is a mirror reflecting our sensitivities. So, dear listener, immerse yourself. Let the music wash over you, cleanse your soul, and perhaps—just perhaps—ignite your own catharsis.

Track Listing

As One; HeartWork; Catharsis; Flow; Tempest; Morning Song; Chasing Shadows; Renewal. Flow Reprise.


Album information

Title: Catharsis | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Challenge Records



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