Myriam Alter: Was It There

Though it does happen, it is not too often an album comes out under the name of someone who doesn't even perform on it. In this case that someone is Belgian composer Myriam Alter. It is an interesting story, really. Alter had been outside the music business for years studying psychology, overseeing a dance school and even working for an ad agency. At age 36, she decided to get back into the fray and formed a jazz band with herself on piano. But beginning in 1997 she focused on composing, eschewing playing, and has put out three albums using this model. For Where Is There she gathered a cast of international musicians to interpret her latest works.

The album is thematic in nature. However, individual tunes may be listened to without any loss of effectiveness. "Was It There" offers an empathetic piano as introduction. Arabian scales and percussion runs soon dominate and create the framework of the piece. An unmistakable "Caravan" vibe takes over. The tune is calmer than that classic, but it is a slower trip to the same place. John Ruocco and his clarinet enjoy the most space. The clarinet's deep and alluring sounds beckon us to come along. This music is a successful attempt at melding world music, folk and jazz.

July 15, 2008 · 0 comments

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Bert Joris: Mr Dodo

This could be just one more contemporary tune composed in the post-hard bop style, and even so it would still be very convincing. But beyond the fine groove and catchy melody, the way these three Belgians and an Italian dive into the spirit of the tune and deliver soulful solos is remarkable. It feels as if the '60s had carried on until now without losing a bit of their substance and originality. After all, good music is of all times, and the members of this quartet are definitely great musicians.

March 03, 2008 · 0 comments

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Nathalie Loriers: The Party

Nathalie Loriers is one of the most mature pianists to have come to prominence in Belgium, a small European country that has always produced a comparatively impressive number of talented jazz musicians. Here she shows her groovy chops on a tune she penned, and a great Italian/Dutch rhythm pair helps her get the most out of a rather simple rhythmic pattern. It evolves into organic improvisation by the piano, then the bass, without ever losing the deeply rooted feel established by the initial chords.

March 03, 2008 · 0 comments

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David Linx & the Brussels Jazz Orchestra: Black Crow

The name David Linx may hardly register on the minds of American jazz fans, but that is their deficiency, not his. This Belgian singer has been building an outstanding body of work for many years, distinguished by his remarkable voice, interpretive skills and emotional honesty. He can sing, scat or even - as on "Black Crow" - dish out a fast-talking rhythmic monologue. On the Changing Faces CD, he joins forces with the Brussels Jazz Orchestra, and their reworking of this Joni Mitchell song is fresh and invigorating.

February 14, 2008 · 1 comment

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Philip Catherine: Coffee Groove

A brisk, rhythmically challenging theme, with a twist of the songs that made the Blue Note label famous in the '60s. The Belgian guitarist starts the new millennium with an all-European quartet that fits him like a glove. On bass and drums is a tight, powerful Dutch-Belgian pair, whose support any soloist would dream of. The frontline is busy with the leader’s both rooted and innovative guitar lines, that fuse the best of jazz harmonies and rock’s energy. On the trumpet, Bert Joris has no problem, with his strong and delicate musicianship, following the path of Chet Baker and Tom Harrell, in whose bands Catherine played at length. As far as jazz is concerned, Belgium is definitely not a small country!

January 10, 2008 · 0 comments

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David Linx: The Land of Joy

Linx is arguably Europe’s most gifted and innovative jazz singer, and has been so for years. In 2007, he recorded his first big band record with his fellow citizens of the Brussels Jazz Orchestra, also one of the best bands on the Old Continent. Typical of Linx’s art is his sensitive rendering of this song, taken at a breakneck pace. Perfect time, non-conventional scat singing, splendid interaction between the vocalist and the orchestra, arranged with consummate art. Linx flies high above the traditional crooner + big band setting that has become fashionable again lately.

January 03, 2008 · 0 comments

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