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Beekman: Vol. 02

Dave Wayne By

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Beekman is a super-tight collective quartet whose members hail from three (count 'em) different continents. Pianist Yago Vazquez is from Spain, reedman Kyle Nasser is an American, and the entire rhythm section—bassist Pablo Menares and drummer Rodrigo Recabarren—hails from Chile. Their prosaically-titled sophomore album, Vol. 02, is more-or-less in the same brainy-but-chill modern jazz style as James Farm, David Gilmore, or Brian Blade's Fellowship Band. Authorship of the album's all-original tunes is spread pretty evenly amongst Nasser, Vazquez, and Menares, with drummer Recabarren chipping in the attractively bustling opener "Cancion al Licor de Ave." The music is colorful, varied and full of interesting details and tricky twists and turns that slip by all too quickly. Though there's no shortage of mixed and odd meters, multi-layered serialism, and subtle Latin grooves, Beekman's music is consistently understated. It flows effortlessly.

Nasser's is an appealing voice. On tenor, he tends to stay in the upper range of his horn, which imparts a reedy, almost English horn-like sound. Emotionally subdued and technically proficient, his style is similar to that of Chris Cheek or Chris Potter. On soprano his sound, while pleasantly rounded, is rather more generic. Vazquez is a kindred spirit to Nasser. He's got chops, but is not a flashy player. He clearly understands the value of space in his improvisations. His chill, fleet-fingered style is perfect for the Rhodes, which he plays on a few tracks sans any sort of effects. He's completely in his element on Nasser's "Something Unsettled," a slinky multi-sectioned piece that moves into—and out of—several slightly different rhythmic feels. Recabarren and Menares, on the other hand, constitute a rather busy and muscular rhythm section. Recabarren, in particular, is quite energetic, but never inappropriately so. He pushes Nasser's darting, up-tempo "Moved By Clouds" right to the brink, pulling back just enough to let the wildly complex melody crystallize completely.

Vol. 02 is, in all aspects, quite accomplished and multi-dimensional. The sweetly chiming, dulcet "Verdict's Out," despite its swift 7/4 meter, constitutes a blowing tune for these guys. Recabarren clearly has a blast playing this piece. Vazquez' "Recovered" is a bright, moderate-tempo piece with maze-like chordal structure and a plethora of odd accents. The tune modulates metrically into a succession of quicker tempos for solo by its author and Recabarren. As crafty and well- conceived as it is, it's the sort of thing that comes straight out of the James Farm playbook. Menares' two pieces, "En Otro Lugar" and "Perdon" are a bit slower, sweeter and less overtly concerned with musical complexity. Not coincidentally, they set the stage for some of the most interesting improvisations on the album. This diversity of compositional approaches notwithstanding, Beekman makes it all work quite gracefully.

Despite the obviously high level of playing and composing here, the album suffers a bit from its own uniformly chill, emotionally-subdued atmosphere. Almost too cool for its own good, Beekman's Vol. 02 totters—at times—on the brink of becoming background music; albeit really amazing and virtuosic background music.

Track Listing: Cancion al Licor de Ave; Moved By Clouds; En Otro Lugar; Something Unsettled; Intro to Verdict's Out; Verdict's Out; Recovered; Perdon; Farewell.

Personnel: Yago Vazquez: piano and Rhodes; Pablo Menares: bass; Rodrigo Recabarren: drums; Kyle Nasser: tenor and soprano saxophones.

Title: Vol. 02 | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Ropeadope

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