Jazz: Dutch cornetist Eric Boeren's Ornette Coleman thing

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Last December Mike Reed's People, Places and Things played a terrific show at the Hungry Brain, devoting one of their sets to treatments of modern classics by their contemporaries in the Amsterdam free jazz scene, including Joost Buis, Guus Janssen, and the late Sean Bergin. Reed's group is currently on tour in Europe and yesterday it was in the studio to play some of that material, where they were to be joined by some of the players who wrote the material. One of the tunes slated to be tackled was "What Happened at Conway Hall, 1938?" which appears on a new album by the fantastic Dutch cornetist Eric Boeren.

Boeren has never been shy about his love for the music of Ornette Coleman's classic quartet with Don Cherry, and since forming his own quartet in the late 90s he's largely followed Coleman's model in terms of instrumentation, sound, and approach. But as his killer new album Coconut (Platenbakkerij) makes abundantly clear, he's got his own thing going on, combining the wonderful loosey-goosey aesthetic of the Dutch free jazz scene, where the musicians play fast and loose with every possible formal element, with a freewheeling approach to set lists, calling new tunes in midperformance or just bleeding one piece into the next. (Coconut was recorded live in Zaandam, the Netherlands this past June with his long-running band—drummer Han Bennink, bassist Wilbert de Joode, and reedist Michael Moore). It's one of my favorite jazz albums of the year, engaging in rigorous improvisation and sophisticated group interplay, while transmitting an undeniably joyful sound.

The group tackles a pair of Ornette tunes from his "outtakes" album Twins ("Little Symphony" and "Joy of a Toy") and they also play Booker Little's hard bop gem "Bee Tee's Minor Plea," but Boeren's own compositions are just as pithy and memorable, filled with squiggly yet elegant melodic phrases played in relaxed, warm unison by the frontline, and driven by lean swing grooves masterfully meted out by Bennink using only a snare drum throughout the entire album (if you weren't a drummer you might not even notice how minimal his set-up is because he generates a full kit's worth of sounds using only sticks and brushes). Following Coleman's frequent tendency, the cornetist's tunes feature several discrete sections that exist to shape each piece, but also to regularly goose the performance with fresh ideas—within the spaces between those parts new forms and melodies often emerge. As Boeren writes in his elliptical liner notes: "Years of experience have gone into developing a poetic way of communicating. The tunes provide tools to work with. Pretty coat hangers." Naturally, the spontaneous interaction and soloing are the coats, stitched together by a rapport that one can't come by readily.

Below you can check out the album track "Padàm.

Today's playlist:

James Carter, Out of Nowhere (Half Note)
Moniek Darge, Sounds of Sacred Places (Kye)
The Stoner, Upp Till Kamp (Apart)
Eddie Kendricks, The Motown Solo Albums, Vol. 1 (Hip-O Select/Motown)
Louise Bessette, Giacinto Scelsi: the Piano Works 1 (Mode)

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