Ever since it opened in 1974, the Bimhuis in Amsterdam has been a venue for creative improvised music. It has been the meeting ground for Dutch musicians, with Wednesday night concerts the hallmark of an event filled year. This album was recorded over four Wednesday nights with twenty musicians who formed four different big bands without the conventional instrumentation. The adaptability of the musicians augurs well for the music which bristles, rocks, swoons, sways, splits line and idiom, and fills an entertaining mosaic.
A funk rhythm on bass and horns lays the groundwork for an incursion into folk themes that revolve and dance like the dervish on “Bochten Algemeen.” Within this ambit comes Mary Oliver, whose violin describes a freeway as she loops and sidles between spaces while the rhythm whoomps along. On “Bochten naar Benden” she swipes a veneer of aloofness atop the rumblings and the free-for-all of the band. A different band, another air, and she is all sweetness as she waltzes along on “Collina,” a tune whose beauty is extended by the unison lines of the band.
“Don’t Pretend” rolls along a great, happy groove. The narrative is stirring, the horns leading the front line and singing together in delight. The narrative is split by saxophonist Sean Bergin, swinging hard with just a dip into splats and fat honks, and later by a flinty Jan Willem van der Ham. And one cannot leave Han Bennink out; he sets up the traps and the rolls with odd rhythm structures riding on his bass kick.
The largest ensemble, with 11 members, turns in one tune, “Hello Fish,” enunciated by pianist Ursel Schlicht in deliberate linear motion that slowly gets more ornate before Franky Douglas unleashes a fusillade of hot energetic lines, pushed and stirred by Bennink and Alan Purves, finally sealed by a thick, buttery nod from Steve Swell.
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