254

Metropole Orkest: Conducted by Rob Pronk

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Although mentioning Rob Pronk's name to jazz fans here in the States would presumably elicit no more than blank stares, musicians—especially those in the Netherlands—know him well, as Pronk has been a renowned jazz luminary in that country for many years, earning the prestigious Nordring Radio Prize in 1981 and Blaupunkt Music Award in 1988 for his composing and arranging prowess.

To help celebrate Pronk's seventy-fifth birthday, the Netherlands Metropole Orchestra (Metropole Orkest), for whom he was named principal guest conductor in 1975, has produced this splendid compilation of arrangements by Pronk spanning a twenty-year period (1982-2002), chosen not by their author but by members of the orchestra from among the many hundreds of charts he has written for them.

For those who may be unfamiliar with the Metropole Orchestra, it is one of the few—perhaps the only—contemporary professional ensemble that employs a full string section to complement the usual brass, reeds and rhythm, which means that anyone who arranges for the Metropole must perform a precarious balancing act, integrating the string section but never allowing it to overshadow the core group, which keeps the jazz component flowing and swinging. Pronk is especially adept at this, which one can readily appreciate when listening to this multifaceted album. Besides arranging all of the selections, Pronk composed half a dozen—"Frosted Black," "S'moo Bloose," "For Birgit," "As the Town Slid Beneath Us," "At Dawn" and a picturesque four-movement suite, "The Final Round."

The album opens with "John Brown's Body" (a.k.a. "Battle Hymn of the Republic"), a clear example of the way in which Pronk uses strings to set a tranquil mood, then cleverly amends it by accelerating the tempo and bringing on the brass, reeds and rhythm. True, there are some "Percy Faith moments," as on the ballads "For Birgit" and "At Dawn" and Rodgers and Hammerstein's "If I Loved You," but they are few and far between, as most of Pronk's arrangements favor spice over syrup, even with the ever-present strings dancing around the perimeter. The orchestra's outstanding soloists include alto saxophonist Piet Noordijk (featured on "Lover Man" and "At Dawn"), guitarist Eef Albers ("If I Were a Bell," "I'm Just Wild About Harry"), trombonist Bart van Lier and tenor Leo Janssen (Gershwin's "There's a Boat That's Leavin' Soon for New York"), trumpeter Ruud Breuls and baritone Max Boeree ("Two Up," Part II of "The Final Round"). As the anthology covers quite a lot of time and ground, a complete list of personnel is not provided.

The album has been carefully mastered and mixed, and the 79-minute playing time speaks for itself. A splendid introduction to the kaleidoscopic musical realm of Rob Pronk and the Netherlands Metropole Orchestra.

Visit the Metropole Orkest on the web or email the Metropole Orkest for more information.


Track Listing: John Brown's Body; Send in the Clowns; Cherokee; Frosted Black; S'moo Bloose; For Birgit; As the Town Slid Beneath Us; If I Were a Bell; Lover Man; There's a Boat; If I Loved You; I'm Just Wild About Harry; "The Final Round" (a suite in four movements -- The Stance / Two Up / Blues in the Bunker / And the Eagles Sang; At Dawn; Aande Amsterdamse Grachten (79:04).

Personnel: Rob Pronk, composer, arranger, conductor; personnel unlisted.

Title: Conducted by Rob Pronk | Year Released: 2004


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Kurrent CD/LP/Track Review Kurrent
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Duets CD/LP/Track Review Duets
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Rev CD/LP/Track Review Rev
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1 CD/LP/Track Review The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1
by Jim Olin
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren CD/LP/Track Review The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 16, 2017
Read Any Other Way CD/LP/Track Review Any Other Way
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 16, 2017
Read "Right Up On" CD/LP/Track Review Right Up On
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 12, 2017
Read "The Bug" CD/LP/Track Review The Bug
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 20, 2017
Read "Which Craft?" CD/LP/Track Review Which Craft?
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: November 30, 2016
Read "Stage 'N Studio" CD/LP/Track Review Stage 'N Studio
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 15, 2017
Read "Transient" CD/LP/Track Review Transient
by Roger Farbey
Published: April 3, 2017
Read "Infra" CD/LP/Track Review Infra
by John Eyles
Published: October 7, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.