Jazz In Jazz Out, an album of fresh and varied music, encompasses different styles and colors, blending mainstream, funk, straight-ahead and classical genres in one interesting set. The Groningen Art Ensemble is led by the internationally renowned composer/bassist Joris Teepe, chairman of the Jazz Department at the Prince Claus Conservatoire at the Hanze University of Groningen, the Netherlands. The underlying theme and title of the first track, "New York Comes to Groningen," a Teepe composition, stems from the fact that the eight-piece ensemble consists of New York-based professional musicians who together comprise the faculty of the Conservatoire's Jazz Department.
From a country that has produced the Millennium Jazz Orchestra, the Dutch Jazz Orchestra and the world-class 54-piece Metropole Orchestra, Joris Teepe's Groningen Art Ensemble may not be comprised of home-grown artists, but it still leaves a lasting impact on jazz by sharing their collective talents and experience in the education of current and future music students from the Netherlands. The music on this disc is not educational, it's entertaining! The Ralph Peterson-penned number "Keep It Simple" says it all. This saucy, samba-like tune is short, simple and fun, with vocals from Dena DeRose and a fine solo shot by trumpeter Brian Lynch.
The style drastically changes with "Father Time" a predominantly rhythm-based straight-funk cut reminiscent of the music from the '70s. The musical metamorphasis continues with David Berkman's mellow arrangement of Billy Strayhorn's last composition, penned in the hospital shortly before his death. "Blood Count," an absolutely beautiful ballad, is all Berkman on piano. Singer DeRose gives another outstanding performance on the old Kerns/Mercer standard "I'm Old Fashioned."
I did not particularly care for Teepe's arrangement of Ellington's "Take The Coltrane," which comes accross like a mishmash of distorted and loose sounds with no rhythm. Another less than stellar track is "Racer X," with a fast-moving hard bop beat that strains to be appreciated. In stark contrast to these two tracks, "All My Tomorrows," a soft and warm guitar ballad by Ron Jackson, once again demonstrates the group's diversity in performance.
Exploring a sufficient variety of jazz styles to please the average aficionado, Jazz In Jazz Out stands out as a unique and respectable recording with new and clever arrangements supported by unchallenged musicianship. Whether playing mellow or hard, classical or mainstream, Teepe's ensemble gets high marks from this student.