About the last place one might think to look for an ultra–hip, ultra–swinging and inclusively modern big band is the Netherlands, but there — word of honor — is where one may readily find exactly that, namely the awesomely talented Big Barchem Band under Joan Reinders’ unerring baton. The Barchem ensemble, which released its first CD, Some Frames of Mind, in 1992, the same year it won first prize in TROS Radio’s national big–band competition, has been playing once a month for the past ten years at Theatre Bouwkunde in Deventer, and its togetherness is clearly evident from the opening measures of Magnifying–Glass, all of whose charts were written by Reinders. As insurance, Barchem has enlisted the services of the superb German saxophonist Peter Weniger who doesn’t disappoint, offering persuasive and sharply–defined solos on soprano (“Magnifying–Glass,” “Egalitarian” and “The Way You Look Tonight”) and tenor sax (“You and the Night and the Music” and his own pensive essay, “Threesome”). Reinders’ four compositions are never less than compelling, with the fugue–like “Centre of Gravity” (spiced by flavorsome solos from flugel Jan Wessels and trombonist Jeroen Rol) and fast–paced “Egalitarian” (Weniger, soprano; Rob Horsting, piano) especially impressive. Three of the four standards swing from the get–go; Weniger (tenor) fashions one of his more seductive statements (capped by a marvelous unaccompanied cadenza) on “You and the Night and the Music” while Reinders’ treatment of Jerome Kern’s “The Way You Look Tonight” sounds positively Holmanesque. Reinders must have won that masterful American arranger’s heart, as Holman writes in the liner notes, “I wasn’t prepared for this kind of writing and playing. I’m really impressed by the charts. This is great music, performed with spirit and dedication.” The other well–known song is Victor Schertzinger / Johnny Mercer’s “Tangerine,” on which trumpeter Herman Nijkamp sings and scats. Well, the arrangement at least is top–notch. Barchem’s on–target soloists include baritone Sebastian Ohm and bassist Bart Tarenskeen ("Love Walked In"), alto Willy van Diepen ("Grey Eminence"), Horsting again ("Magnifying Glass"), Wessels and drummer Martijn Vink ("The Way You Look Tonight"). When not soloing, Vink, Horsting and Tarenskeen work tirelessly to make sure the band's rhythmic pulse remains strong and inflexible. "A beautiful Jazz orchestra," writes fellow Dutchman Jerry van Rooyen who has conducted another world-class ensemble, the Netherlands Metropole Orchestra. "A surprising and impressive production. My sincere compliments to everyone." And ours as well.
Contact:A–Records, P.O. Box 540, 6800 AM Arnhem, The Netherlands. www.challenge.nl
Track Listing: Love Walked In; Magnifying Glass; Threesome; Tangerine; Centre of Gravity; Egalitarian; You and the Night and the Music; Grey Eminence; The Way You Look Tonight (65:26).
Personnel: Joan Reinders, conductor, composer, arranger; Peter Weniger, guest artist, soprano and tenor sax; Willy van Diepen, alto, soprano sax, flute; Gerard Grobben, alto, soprano sax, clarinet; Gerlo Hesselink, tenor sax, flute, clarinet; Paul van Batenburg, tenor sax, clarinet; Sebastian Ohm, baritone sax, bass clarinet; Rini Swinkels, Geert Sprick, Ramses Helmus, Jan Wessels, Jan Hollander, Herman Nijkamp, trumpet, flugelhorn; Jan Oosting, Henri Gerrits, Gert Nijenbanning, trombone; Martin van den Berg, bass trombone; Jeroen Rol, trombone solo (