In many aspects of life, bringing someone in from outside can provide a new perspective on things. This is also true in music where a guest musician can transform or enrich the established language of a closed unit. In the case of Belgian group Bambi Pang Pang, the inclusion of free jazz drummer Andrew Cyrille opens a vista where the exploration of emotions becomes the key ingredient in experiments with form. Drop your plans is the name of the album and it encourages contemplation.
Free jazz is often associated with a certain form of catharsis where tension is built and released through a massive wall of sound. However, free jazz is as much about silence as it is about the excess of sound and no one incarnates this paradox more beautifully than Andrew Cyrille. He is perhaps the ballad-player par excellence, with a unique understanding of every emotional shade of his instrument. His rhythms can be percussive explosions of energy, but also silent whispers from cymbals. His language, at its most beautiful and soft-spoken, comes to the fore on "Bottle of Drums" where the rustling of sticks and the silent beat on the drums make calm music.
Together with pianist Seppe Gebruers, saxophonist Viktor Perdieus and bassist Laurens Smet, Cyrille creates what you might call free ballads. Gentle wonders of sound, as in the title track where Gebruers' hands barely touch the keys and Smit accentuates the beat slowly. It is a composition so delicate it feels like a piece of china on the edge of a table. Perdieus blows his horn with delicate timbre and a lyrical sense of phrasing and it is mostly on the rhythmically vibrant "Dr. Licks" and the intense "Ready Set" that he lets completely go and plays full of fire.
The members of the group show how much a free jazz approach can bring to the art of the ballad. The music is cliché-free, melodic and emotional and can be enjoyed with both head and heart.
Isme; Fuks; Frases; Sum; Threescore and Fourteen; Dr. Licks; Bottle of Drums; Border/Grens; Ready Set; Drop your plans; Isme.
Seppe Gebruers: piano; Laurens Smet: bass; Viktor Perdieus: saxophones; Andrew Cyrille: drums.
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