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Bo's Art Trio: Cobra

John Eyles By

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This is an album of 23 tracks, mostly short, half under two minutes long. Simon Vinkenoog is an esteemed Amsterdam-based poet who recites over the music on fifteen tracks, in the tradition of the long and glorious alliance between jazz and poetry, dating back at least half a century to the era of the Beats.

For the great majority of the time, Vinkenoog recites in his native Dutch, so it is unlikely that many listeners will understand the subtle nuances of his poetry. Fortunately, his poetry and his delivery are both highly rhythmic, so they sit well with the improvised music of Bo van de Graaf's trio. (Bo's art, beaux arts. Geddit?) The threesome plays improvised jazz and inventively complements the rhythms of the poetry, without really cutting loose on the tracks that include recitation. It was only on "Sweet House Ritual: Navaho Indian Ritual"—recited in English—that I could fully appreciate the subtle interactions between verse and music that I was missing out on elsewhere. My loss.

No disrespect to Vinkenoog, but for most non-Dutch-speaking listeners, the instrumental interludes and purely instrumental tracks will be the highlights of the album, rather than the words. It is difficult to sum up their style of play. It is not free jazz, although it is unconstrained; it is certainly not traditional, although it displays an acute awareness of the music's past; it simultaneously looks forward and back.

Bo's saxophone playing is free-flowing and his tone is very easy on the ear, best demonstrated by his prolonged solo on "SMRTLP Intro. This leads into "SMRTLP Trio, the best example of the full trio at work, which shows them to be totally in touch with each other's thoughts and reactions, in that way that only comes about through prolonged playing together (or telepathy). Drummer Fred van Duijnhoven admirably gives the music a pulse while pianist Michiel Braam roams free.

Track Listing: Mense; Droogboeket; Salmon Rushdie Blues; Rudiment 1; Improvisatie; Koraalzang; Om en om en om en om; Dienende krachten; Ons krijgen ze niet klein; SMRTLP intro; SMRTLP trio; Rudiment 4; Ik wou dat ik een vogel was; Quick quick slow; Sweet House Ritual: Navaho Indian Ritual; Ook ik ontwikkel beeldenin het duister; Jazz, cool or hot; Song for Boillie Holiday; Ik draal een kleine revolutie af; De vlucht van de adelaar; Jazz for ever; Ja Ja Ja; Ik sta op de markt en ik roep

Personnel: Bo van de Graaf: tenor, alto and soprano saxophone; Michiel Braam: piano; Fred van Duijnhoven: drums; Simon Vinkenoog: live poetry.

Title: Cobra | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: I Compani

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