One of the hallmarks of a truly creative jazz musician is that his or her musical vision is immediately identifiable, and guitarist Tim Langedijk
is one of those players.
His trio's latest album, Up North
is a marvelous document of his elegance, intensity, surprising musical choices and understated technique. When combined with the equally subtle playing of bassist Udo Pannekeet
and drummer Hans Van Oosterhout
, the music on the album almost glows in the dark. Everything has been honed and polished to a high sheen, with not a jot misplaced, and yet it all sounds completely natural and deeply heartfelt.
The trio has been together since 2012 and the album November
. Since then, there has been the digital-only release Standards 1
in 2013, followed by Acenja
in 2014. Langedijk and Pannekeet have been musical compatriots going back to at least 2008.
The "north" of the title refers to the northern part of the Netherlands where both Langedijk and Pannekeet were born and whence they returned, spending the summer creating the seven original compositions on the album. Of those, four are co-written, with two by Langedijk and one by Pannekeet. This serene countryside infuses the sound of the album, which feels like it comes directly from the souls of the members of the trio.
Langedijk's very Telecaster-ish sound is vaguely related to a mix of John Abercrombie
and Bill Frisell
in his use of a light touch with high amplification, reverb and sonic swells, but he also adds in a touch of American country with hints of the Blues. Pannekeet's bass sound is light and lean which fits both his own singing style and that of Langedijk, while Van Oosterhout is brimming with energy, but keeps things light and hopping. The overall sense is that each player has technique to burn but is playing underneath it, with no sense of strain or tension. Much of this can be gleaned from the Up North trailer
What must be made clear is that while the trio does not (musically) scream, the music has a bite to it. Yes, the band is having a good time, but the music has a depth that becomes more and more apparent as time goes on, and the tunes tell their stories.
"Current" has a delightful, light-but-heavy groove that is infectious. Pannekeet's "Flor Ane" has a descending melody that is surprisingly taken over by a bossa rhythm, and has a terrific bass solo. The title tune is always important to a album, and here the mix of Langedijk's influences can be heard quite clearly. This is followed by "Mystics," which has a long sinewy line that seems to never end in this sound-painted story.
Besides the originals, Paul Simon
's very pretty tune, "I Do It For Your Love" (from Still Crazy After All These Years
, Columbia, 1975) is given a distinctive treatment that gives no hint of the tune when it starts. Langedijk and the band seem to lean towards the dark and melancholy when covering a tune, as can be seen in their live version of J.J. Cale's "After Midnight"
. Up North
ends with a beautiful rendition of "Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry," by Jule Stein and Sammy Cahn, and perfectly sums up the musical world of this fine trio, and its successful achievement of understated perfection.
Listening to Langedijk, Pannekeet and Van Oosterhout just feels so good.