Sit up and listen. Flat Earth Society is a big band with the integrity of a magpie, in the sense that it goes for the shiniest elements of a cultural outlook that takes in a kind of homage to Kurt Weill, incidental music for old TV detective series, and perhaps a touch of Henry Cow at its most formal. All that makes for listening that could have you laughing out loud or wondering happily over the sheer bravura of it all.
Catch an earful of "Clusterthing," featuring a riff ponderous enough to make a stampede of elephants seem fleet of foot by comparison, and traces of such formidable complexity that they should only be listened to whilst grinning maniacally. You might just find your outlook on life is transformed in an entirely positive way. By comparison, "Hilton's Heaven" is an exercise in dark restraint in which deft keyboard touches serve notice of how this band has mastered colour, shedding some light upon the twilit ambience; Roland Vancampennout's vocal sounds like a Belgian J.J. Cale.
When it comes down to it, this is a big band whose music effectively sidesteps the common discussion of the respective merits of sections and soloists. That said, Marc Meeuwissen's trombone on the title track is an embodiment of the bawdy, whilst Bruno Vansina's baritone sax on the oddly named "Lax" blows up the kind of vertiginous storm that's likely to have those of nervous disposition running for cover.
Even greater credit must go to clarinettist Peter Vermeersch and keyboardist Peter Vandenberghe, however, as their compositions make up the programme on Psychoscoutand only rarely in recent times has such coherence between compositional framework and musicianship been acheived. To call it "Ellingtonian" might be both apt and unhelpful, but it doesn't alter the fact that this disc ought to be figuring in those end of year lists, if there's any justice in the world.
Track Listing: Anthem 2004; Clusterthing; Gulls & Buoys; Edward, Why Don't You Play Some Blues?; Hilton's Heaven; In Between Rivers; Psychoscout; Lie To Me; Without; Snaggletooth; Lax; Waterman; Ich, Bin, George.
Personnel: Peter Vermeersch: composer, clarinet; Tom Wouters: clarinet, vibraphone; Benjamin Boutreur:
alto saxophone; Michel Mast: tenor saxophone; Bruno Vansina: baritone saxophone; Luc van
Lieshout: trumpet; Bart Maris: trumpet; Marc Meeuwissen: trombone; Stefaan Blancke:
trombone; Berlinde Deman: tuba; Peter Vandenberghe: piano, keyboards; Wim Willaert:
accordion, keyboards; Kristof Roseeuw: double bass; Teun Verbruggen: drums; Roland
Vancampenhout: guitar (4), vocals (5).
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid. For some reason I remember an arrangement of Hey Jude they did. My first real exposure was Stan Kenton in the Smithville, MO high school gym. Kenton and the band director there were old friends, so he would play there from time to time. My dad took me without telling me where we were going and it was the only show he ever took me to. I remember that Bobby Shew played Send In Clowns and I damn near levitated I was so excited. The huge sound and amazing chords floored me. I believe I was 13 at the time. I immediately started practicing and taking lessons. Music became a passion and nearly a career. I also listened to Dick Wright's Jazz Show on KANU every night. I can't even start to explain what I learned lying in bed listening to Dick talk about jazz. I met him once when I was struggling to put together a solo for Joy Spring playing in a combo at KU. Stopped by his office and asked for recommendations. He showed up at my jazz ensemble rehearsal the next day with a tape with example solos. What a kind man Dick Wright was.
My advice to new listeners is to stop worrying about what music is important and focus on music you like. I spent quite a bit of my music life listening to important music I didn't necessarily like. Must say I have quite a bit more fun now listening to music that I deeply enjoy. Some of it is even important.
Login to your All About Jazz member account to submit articles and press releases, upload images, edit musician profiles, add events and business listings, communicate with other members via personal messages, submit inqueries or contribute any content.