Possessing a tight sound that cuts through the rest of the band, saxophonist Dick de Graaf spins lines and ideas with abandon on Moving Target. If an album can be thought of as a calling card that gives an idea of how the band would sound live, then this album should produce plenty of gigs.
Crackling with energy and fine band interplay from beginning to end, Moving Target contains ten originals, of which "Deka Deka" and the title tune are rearrangements of compositions from earlier times. Five tunes are from a commission by Radio Magyar that uses the music of Bela Bartok as inspiration.
De Graaf is most certainly eclectic in his influences and inspirations, which include such rock icons as Jimi Hendrix and The Who, as well as classical composers Franz Schubert and Ludwig van Beethoven. It shows in the range of styles on display here.
The Bartok set of pieces makes for interesting listening, as the strength of the connection to the composer varies widely. Bartok is justly famous for intense classical compositions with strong rhythmic, melodic, scalar and phrase relationships to Hungarian folk music within a distinctly modern style. His lines, which contain biting dissonances created by seeming accidental counterpoint and enormous forward energy, remain his trademarks.
Each tune ("A Touch Of Bela," "Stolen Dream," "Why Birds Always Sing," "Handiclap" and "Somsok Orkin Saleb II") shows its Bartokian connection in a different way and with differing clarity. De Graaf is never overt about what he is doing, and implies Bartok with much subtlety and wit. However, a listener familiar with the composer should easily be able to hear the stylistic references, despite how deeply they are fused with straight-ahead jazz.
Taken together, the ten tracks display de Graaf's compositional gift as well as his improvisational prowess. The band (keyboardist Jeroen van Vliet, bassist Guus Bakker and drummer Pascal Vermeer) is more than anyone can ask for, playing with fire and extremely sharp musical reflexes, making Moving Target a winning mainstream record.
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