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Eric Vloeimans: Eric Vloeimans: V-Flow


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Eric Vloeimans: Eric Vloeimans: V-Flow
Eric Vloeimans

Challenge Records


Still on the shy side of fifty, but looking considerably younger—in no small part due to a distinctive image with colorful clothing and funky shoes—it might appear premature to be releasing a five-disc box set that takes a retrospective look at the career of Dutch trumpeter Eric Vloeimans. But as the trumpeter begins to gain international stature through touring with his two main projects—the quirky chamber jazz of Fugimundi, heard in Ottawa, Canada in March, 2010, and his electrified Gatecrash quartet, which performed a brief but exhilarating set at Dutch Jazz & World Meeting 2010—and when looking back at his own discography, which now numbers a lucky thirteen, it's clear that while Vloeimans has plenty left to say, there's a lot to catch up on for those who are relatively new to his work.

V-Flow is a limited distribution (but still readily available) box that compiles some of the trumpeter's best work as a leader, alongside significant sideman sessions. Even those who have his twelve Challenge releases, from 1994's First Floor through to 2009's Heavens Above! will likely find a few previously unheard gems on V-Flow, most significantly the more than half of his debut as a leader, No Realistics (Art in Jazz/Via, 1992), previously out of print and now remastered for a chock-full collection that's clocks in at just under six hours.

Since graduating from the Rotterdam Conservatorium with honors in the late 1980s, in addition to time spent at the prestigious New School in New York, Vloeimans has gradually but inexorably and inevitably become one of the best-known of Holland's next generation of jazz musicians, a small but potent collective that also includes guitarists Jesse van Ruller and Anton Goudsmit, saxophonists Benjamin Herman and Yuri Honing, and keyboardist Michiel Borstlap. Vloeimans has comfortably married a clear knowledge and reverence of the American jazz tradition to hints of European classicism, occasional shots of futuristic electronic, and no shortage of the absurdity endemic to the New Dutch Swing of musicians like internationally known drummer Han Bennink and pianist Misha Mengelberg, both part of the first wave of their homeland's jazz in the 1960s, when it began to shake off its largely imitative approach and assert its own distinctive personality and aesthetic.

Like most musicians, Vloeimans wore his roots more definitively on his sleeve early in his career, but by the time he was approached by the Art in Jazz label in 1995, with carte blanche to do as he pleased, his voice was already beginning to form, even as his broader eclecticism threatened—unsuccessfully, thankfully—to derail any signs of a distinctive language. Vloeimans is even a little loathe to consider himself a jazz musician; to him, as it is increasingly for so many musicians, it's just music. Sure, some of his early music reflects his love of Canadian expat trumpeter Kenny Wheeler—even what is now a middle-period track like "Brutto Gusto," from the 2002 live recording of the same name that featured a put-together group that sounds as if it had been paying together for years, including Parisian guitarist Nguyen Le, Swedish bassist Lars Danielsson and Finnish drummer Markku Ounaskari—but Vloeimans' broader textural palette and a largely less melancholic lyricism that reflects his more outgoing personality, when compared to the more introverted Wheeler, meant that he'd successfully subsumed this and other references by this time—and, in fact, long before it.

Rather than presenting this retrospective look in chronological form, Vloeimans has, instead, created five distinct, theme-based compilations. Early Works brings together tracks from his first three releases—along with No Realistics and First Floor, there are six tracks from 1996's Bestiarium—and is the only V-Flow disc ordered chronologically. Vloeimans' first quartet also included Goudsmit—a guitarist who, in his command of color, a language as informed by 1960s surf music as it is a more sophisticated jazz vernacular, and an idiosyncratic approach that, while capable of nuance and understatement, at times resembles a more wildly expressionistic Bill Frisell, combined with a Pat Metheny-esque thematic focus and Jim Hall-like economy. It's a relationship that continues to this day, with Goudsmith a member of Fugimundi, even as his own career is on the ascendancy with his own group, The Ploctones, and greater national acclaim as the recipient of the 2010 VPRO/Boy Edgar award, The Netherlands' version of The Grammies. While No Realistics was an album recorded on a relative shoestring, it's as impressive today as it was nearly twenty years ago, a first important salvo for the trumpeter as a player and composer of no small significance.

Electric collects six tracks from Gatecrash's three releases to date—with follow-ups Gatecrashin' (2007) and Hyper (2008), in addition to Heavens Above!—as well as more decidedly electronic tracks from his collaborations with Michel Banabila, Voiznoiz3: Urban Jazz Scapes (JJ Tracks, 2003), and two tracks from a 2005, limited edition, 10" vinyl release by Steamin' Soundworks that remixes pieces from two albums by Banabila/Scanner. The Gatecrash tracks, in particular, cover considerable ground, ranging from the soft but booty-shaking "V-Flow"—keyboardist Jeroen van Vliet setting the stage texturally with his shimmering Fender Rhodes while bassist Gulli Gudmundsson delivers a relatively rare solo (and an even rarer turn on double-bass) and drummer Jasper van Hulten holds down the groove while, at the same time, pliant and responsive—to the fierier, more R&B-centric "Maceo," the greasier groove of Vloeimans' homage to another inspiration, Miles Davis, on the aptly-titled "Prince of Darkness," van Vliet's particularly compelling and near-anthemic "Hyper," and the dark-hued " Pèlerinage," which starts and ends in near-silence, but builds over a two-chord vamp to a powerful midpoint climax.

Amis's twelve tracks are culled from a multitude of one-time collaborations, including Vloeimans' Brutto Gusto and Bitches and Fairy Tales (1998), the latter featuring pianist John Taylor, bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joey Baron; tracks from Italian pianist Enrico Pieranunzi's Alone Together (Challenge, 2001), Finnish pianist Jarmo Savolainen's Grand Style (A-Records, 2007), pianist Marc Vanroon's En Blanc Er Noir (Daybreak, 2007), Michiel Borstlap's The Sextet Live! (Challenge, 1997) and composer/arranger Bob Brookmeyer's Waltzing with Zoe (Challenge, 2001). Perhaps the single most eclectic disc of the box, it travels from the indigo hues of Bitches and Fairy Tales' "Mount Kinabulu," with its near ECM-like clarity and understated power, to Savolainen's "Grand Style," where the pianist's swirling Fender Rhodes evokes images of early 1970s Miles Davis, but with greater attention to form. Hints of gospel surface on Bitches' "Good Ol' Benz," driven by Baron's spare drumming and occasional surprising punctuation, while Brookmeyer's balladic "Fireflies" alludes to Vloeimans' experience in larger ensembles, both in The Netherlands and during his time in the United States, where he toured with the Mercer Ellington-led Duke Ellington Band in 1989.

Petit Ensemble focuses on Vloeimans' two Fugimundi releases with Anton Goudsmit and pianist Harmen Fraanje—2006's Summersault and 2009's Live at Yoshi's—along with the album that was the seed for the group, 2005's Boompetit, which also featured cellist Ernst Reijseger. Aside from Fugimundi's inherent virtuosity—in addition to Vloeimans and Goudsmit, their younger partner, Fraanje, still in his thirties, demonstrating a singing and singular pianism that was richly evident at Dutch Jazz & World Meeting 2010, where he performedwith his own intimate and interactive Avalonia Trio—it combines a kind of freewheeling improvisational élan and occasional unfettered humor that somehow remains well within accessibility bounds. The gentle chamber sound of Summersault's melancholy and sing-song "Mon Petit Prince" contrasts with the Mediterranean textures and impressionistic tinges of the aptly-titled "Corleone" the Latin-esque "Chorizo" and the playful yet subdued disc closer, "Wet Feet."

The final disc, Melodias, compiles some of Vloeimans' most compelling and memorable themes, from albums including 2003's collaboration with pianist Rita Marcotulli, bassist Palle Danielsson and drummer {Roberto Gatto}}, Hidden History; another John Taylor meeting, but this time with bassist Furio Di Castri and drummer Joe La Barbera, on 2000's Umai; and more music from Summersault and Boompetit. Marcotulli's work on the Hidden History tracks—especially the rubato tone poem, "Start of an Unknown Era," and more time-defined ballad, "Papillon," also featuring, in addition to his deep, robust support, a gorgeous pizzicato solo from Danielsson—suggest an Italian treasure who, while not exactly unknown, deserves a more prominent place on the radar. Taylor's playing on an alternate, pre-Fugimundi version of the delicately buoyant "Summersault," with its highly memorable melody, and the ethereal beauty of "Isis"—where di Castri's lithe solo leads to a particularly memorable feature for Vloeimans that speaks to the sometimes near-vocal quality of his horn—demonstrates an increased empathy with the trumpeter that clearly comes from having toured occasionally together in the time since Bitches and Fairy Tales.

The entire box, in fact, is rife with telepathic connections that are easier to understand in Vloeimans' longstanding groups and collaborations, but more uncanny in the one-off affairs, ideal combinations of the sound of surprise that comes from first encounters and the comfort and trust that comes from longer relationships—and time spent actually piecing together the chronology of Vloeimans' career, based on this box, helps explain how many of these relationships were forged.

Throughout, and amidst a group of thirty-odd musical partners, Vloeimans' writing and playing is the glue that binds the broader eclecticism of V-Flow's fifty-nine tracks. Whether applying tasteful effects to expand his sonic landscape with Gatecrash, waxing lyrical with Fugimundi, or asserting a stronger voice across the span of his first three group records with Goudsmit, bassist Arnold Dooyeweerd and drummer Pieter Bast; whether his embouchure is soft and pliant, rich and plangent, or brash and slightly raspy; and whether he's focusing on the midrange of his horn in Davis-like fashion or making sudden leaps into the stratosphere à la Kenny Wheeler, Vloeimans' personality—thoughtful, at times, but vivacious and comedic at others—shines through on V-Flow, a broad-reaching collection that clarifies and consolidates the strength of what's come before but, even more importantly, promises even greater things surely to follow.

Tracks: CD1 (Early Works): Admiring; E.J.; Le Morvan; No Realistics; Sketches of La Planche; Fuddruckers; John and Wilfried; Elephant Walk; F for Fun, Funk and Fumble; For Jacq; Mack Truck; Whirlpool; The Rabbit, The Fox, The Hunter and The Hole. CD2 (Electric): V-Flow; Maceo; Prince of Darkness; Hyper; Tapes Hv Rmxd.; To Jon; The Radiance of a Thousand Suns Burst Forth at Once (Melancholy Mix); Blow Out; Ears Tell Us Where We are in Space (Bob Badoubah Mix); Pèlerinage. CD3 (Amis): Mount Kinabalu; Midnight Child; What is This Thing Called Love?; Grand Style; Subway Part One and Part Two; Good Ol' Benz; Brutto Gusto; Monkido; Radio-a-Haman; Alone Together; Curve; Fireflies. CD4 (Petit Ensemble): Mon Petit Prince; Summersault; Fatima; Thrill; Corleone; Chorizo; FF Dimme Cowboy; Peppe und...; Guano; March of the Carpenter Ants; Wet Feet. CD5 (Melodias): Hidden History; Le Mariage; Start of an Unknown Era; Desberato; Never Before; Summersault; Solo Di Tromba Nr. 3; Papillon; Requiem; Miquilin; Isis; Dreamland; Morimund.

Personnel: Eric Vloeiman: trumpet, effects (CD2#1-4, CD2#6, CD2#10); Anton Goudsmit: guitar (CD1, CD2#9, CD4, CD5#2, CD5#4-5, CD5#13); Arnold Doooyeweerd: double-bass (CD1); Dick de Graaf: soprano saxophone (CD1#4); Pieter Bast: drums (CD1); Peter Weniger: tenor and soprano saxophones (CD1#8, CD1#9, CD1#11, CD1#13); John Taylor: piano (CD3#1-2, CD3#5-6, CD5#6, CD5#9, CD5#11-12); Marc Johnson: bass (CD3#1-2, CD3#5-6); Joey Baron: drums (CD3#1-2, CD3#5-6); Furio di Castri: bass (CD5#6, CD5#9, CD5#11-12); Joe LaBarbera: drums (CD3#3, CD3#10, CD5#6, CD5#9, CD5#11-12); Nguyê Lê: guitar (CD3#7-8); Lars Danielsson: bass and cello (CD3#7-8); Markku Ounaskari: drums (CD3#4, CD3#7-8), cayon and percussion (CD3#7-8);Michel Banabila: sampler (CD2#5, CD2#8), electronic (CD2#7, CD2#9); Bobby: tapes and turntable (CD2#5, CD5#8); Hans Greeve: drums and guitar (CD2#5); Palle Danielsson: bass (CD5#1, CD5#3, CD5#7-8, CD5#10); Roberto Gatto: drums (CD5#1, CD5#3, CD5#7-8, CD5#10); Rita Marcotulli: piano (CD5#1, CD5#3, CD5#7-8, CD5#10); Ernst Reijseger: cello (CD4#4, CD4#8-9, CD5#2, CD5#5); Harmen Fraanje: piano (CD4, CD5#2, CD5#5); Jeroen van Vliet: Fender Rhodes and keyboards (CD2#1-4, CD2#6, CD2#10); Gulli Gudmundsson: bass, electric basses and effects (CD2#1-4, CD2#6, CD2#10); Jasper van Hulten: drums (CD2#1-4, CD2#6, CD2#10); Enrico Pieranunzi: piano (CD3#3, CD3#10); Philip Catherine: guitar (CD3#3, CD3#10); Hein Van de Geyn: bass (CD3#3, CD3#10); Marc van Roon: piano (CD3#9); Wim Kegel: drums (CD3#9); Tony Overwater: bass (CD3#9); Yuri Honing: tenor and soprano saxophone (CD3#11); Benjamin Herman: alto and c melody saxophones (CD3#11); Michiel Borstlap: piano (CD3#11); Anton Drukker: bass (CD3#11); Joost Lijbaart: drums (CD3#11); Marko Lackner: alto and soprano saxophones, clarinet and flute (CD3#12); Oliver Leight: alto and soprano saxophones, clarinet and flute (CD3#12); Matthias ErlweinL tenor saxophone and clarinet (CD3#12); Nils van Haften: tenor saxophone, clarinet and bass clarinet (CD3#12); Edgar Herzog: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet and contrabass clarinet (CD3#12); Thorsten Bekenstein: trumpet and flugelhorn (CD3#12); Torsten Maaß: trumpet and flugelhorn (CD3#12); Sebastian Strempel: trumpet and flugelhorn (CD3#12); Angelo Aerploegen: trumpet and flugelhorn (CD3#12); Adrian Mears: trombone (CD3#12); Jan Oosting: trombone (CD3#12); Bert Pfieffer: trombone (CD3#12); Ed Partyka: bass trombone (CD3#12); Kris Goessens: piano (CD3#12); Achim Kaufmann: synthesizers (CD3#12); Ingmas Heller: bass (CD3#12); John Hollenbeck: drums (CD3#12); Bob Brookmeyer: arranger and conductor (CD3#12); Jarmo Savolainen: piano and Fender Rhodes (CD3#4); Uffe Krokfors: bass (CD3#4); Robin Rimbaud: electronica (CD2#7).

Photo Credit

John Kelman

Track Listing


Album information

Title: Eric Vloeimans: V-Flow | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Challenge Records

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