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Senne Sing Song
The popular take on the Dutch Instant Composers school of jazz (spearheaded by pianist Misha Mengelberg and drummer Han Bennink for more than 30 years) is that they are clowning traditionalists. While the notion of 'instant composing' suggests free improv, the music is more often than not beholden to the traditions of Monk, Ellington and Herbie Nichols.
Notably, those are all pianist traditions, as Mengelberg has always been the primary composer of the ICP Orchestra. The ICP has always been his main vehicle and exceptions tend to be either solo performance or New York associations. Senne Sing Song is his third New York recording and is the best one yet. Grouped with bassist Greg Cohen and drummer Ben Perowsky, the record should satisfy persnickety listeners who complain about humor in music: it's a strong, straight-ahead piano trio outing. Mengelberg's New York recordings have all been more piano jazz and less ICP jazz, which made the first two feel limited. But here it's the best sort of tradition: nine taut pieces of 'inside' jazz, with a cohesive approach to Mengelberg's compositions.
The group Available Jelly is the closest stepson ICP has, which makes sense as it is largely comprised of members of the Orchestra. California-born ex-pat Michael Moore leads the group and the sextet follows in the ICP tradition of playful reverence. Along with Kurt Weill's "Bilbao Song that provides the album's title, the group takes on Hoagy Carmichael and Burt Bacharach, Moore compositions, tunes supplied by cornetist Eric Boeren and a traditional Myanmar folk song. Sterner in their approach, strong arrangements lead them through moods from jellyroll to cinescope.
The most impressive of this recent lot is saxophonist Ab Baars' Kinda Dukish. The very act of reinterpreting Ellington is both cliché and bordering on the sacrilege. With trombonist Joost Buis, bassist Wilbert de Joode and drummer Martin van Duynhoven, Baars takes on 10 of Ellington's tunes, adding the disclaimer "Kinda to such altogether classic compositions as "Solitude , "Caravan , "Drop Me Off in Harlem and "Prelude to a Kiss . The arrangements are bold and come off without a miss. Baars takes deeply recognizable music and makes it his own, from the opening Gonsalvesian tenor bleat to the lovely "Kinda Perdido that closes the set. It's thoroughly modern, but without any sort of irony about or destruction of the past.
Tracks and Personnel
Senne Sing Song
Tracks: Hypo Xmas Tree Fuzz; We Are Going Out for Italian; Kwela P Kwana; Blues for Piet; Reef und Kneebus; Brozziman; Poor Wheel; Tieriogre; Senne Sing Song.
Personnel: Misha Mengelberg: piano; Greg Cohen: bass; Ben Perowsky: drums
Tracks: Lovelock; Bulan/Khek Borates; Facade; Baltimore Oriole; Little French Boy; Selat Sunda; Jackdaws and Blackbirds; Wollic; Mad; Colima; In the Secret Garden; Bilbao Song.
Personnel: Michael Moore: alto saxophone, clarinet, bass clarinet; Tobias Delius: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Eric Boeren: cornet; Wolter Wierbos: trombone; Ernst Glerum: bass; Michael Vatcher: percussion.
Kinda Solitude (Solitude); Kinda Lafitte (Aristocracy à la Jean Lafitte); Kinda Bear (Jack the Bear); Kinda Caravan (Caravan); Kinda Gentle (Mr. Gentle and Mr. Cool); Kinda Half (Half the Fun); Kinda Harlem (Drop Me Off in Harlem); Kinda Braud (Portrait of Wellman Braud); Kinda Prelude (Prelude to a Kiss); Kinda Perdido (Perdido).
Personnel: Ab Baars: clarinet, tenor saxophone; Joost Buis: trombone; Wilbert de Joode: double bass; Martin van Duynhoven: drums.