When Eric Boeren's 4tet isn't playing the music of Ornette Coleman, they are playing the music of Ornette Coleman. That is to say, with a Dutch swing.
The leader and cornetist began playing covers in the early 1990s, releasing several quartet recordings of Coleman's music with Cross Breeding (BVHaast, 1997), Joy Of A Toy (BVHaast, 2001), and Soft Nose (BVHaast, 2001).
And while this album Song For Tracey The Turtle only refers to two Coleman tracks directly, the influence is quite palpable. Without direct allusion to the original Coleman quartet or the later Old And New Dreams band of Don Cherry, Dewey Redman, Ed Blackwell, and Charlie Haden, Boeren along with saxophonist Michael Moore, bassist Wilbert de Joode and drummer Paul Lovens present music that Ornette Coleman circa 1960 would easily recognize and the 2010 Ornette might love.
This disc was taken from a 2004 concert broadcast by Belgian radio and not heard by Boeren until 2008. His quartet is in fine form, frolickingly playing with extended technique to broaden the seemingly simple music Boeren wrote with Coleman in mind.
The music is arranged to allow each player plenty of space. Michael Moore and Wilbert de Joode are featured on "Charmes," speaking hushed lines to each other. It's almost as if they're aside, especially when Boeren takes off with some licks and Lovens whips up the energy. The 4tet seems to have a sense of how to shred a composition, only to reassemble it without a mark. Even their "Free" piece maintains the quartet's logic. The gentle "Memo" at barely over a minute segues into Eubie Blake's "Memories Of You," played straight by Moore's clarinet and Boeren's muted cornet with all the sentiment and attitude the song deserves.
The disc ends with the 10-minute "Squirrel Feet/The Legend Of Bebop," a part Coleman/part Boeren creation which pulls music from Coleman's The Art of the Improvisers (Atlantic, 1961) recording, but builds upon a 21st century band concept with 20 years of experience. The quartet is unflappable, assembling the melody before breaking it into several pieces to be reconfigured into a blues swing. Smile, Ornette, smile.
Song For Tracy The Turtle; A Fuzzphony; Mr & Mrs People; Charmes; Free; Soft Nose; Memo;
Memories Of You; Moon Inhabitants; Squirrel Feet/The Legend Of Bebop.
Eric Boeren: cornet; Michael Moore: alto saxophone, Eb clarinet; Wilbert de Joode: double
bass; Paul Lovens: drums.
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