Polder is a Dutch quintet, led by bassist and composer Guus Bakker. Bakker has been a professional musician since the mid-90s, with an extensive resumé as a sideman, so it's perhaps surprising that Polder is his debut as a bandleader and writer. His unhurried pace is rewarded by a varied and engaging collection of tunes.
The music ranges from punchy, groove-focussed numbers such as "Duck & Hide"with Bakker and Dros in particularly assertive moodto the straight-ahead swing of "November Rain" and the gentler "Dawn," centered on Van Haften's saxophone and Veneman's warm-toned trombone, and "Twenty Two." When Suntrop ramps up his guitar soundas he does on "Look A Here" and "Afternoon"the music takes on a fusion-meets-prog urgency. The catchy "Souldust," co-written by Bakker and Suntrop, is a fine example of the quintet in full flight, flowing melodic lines from sax and trombone over a funky rhythm.
"fOrnette" and "State Of Monk" suggest two possible influences for Bakker's music. "fOrnette" is a slow, almost melancholy, tune with Van Haften's bass clarinet at its heart: fairly brief at just over three minutes but an album highlight. Despite the absence of a piano, "State Of Monk" wears Thelonious Monk's influence proudly as its stylish swing brings the enjoyable Polder to a close.
Duck & Hide; Dawn; Afternoon; Souldust; Twenty Two; fOrnette; November Rains; Look A Here; Way Back; State Of Monk.
Nils Van Haften: saxophone, bass clarinet; Vincent Veneman: trombone; Andreas Suntrop: guitar; Guus Bakker: bass; Pim Dros: drums.