Willem Breuker Kollektief

In Holland

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Simply put, this is the finest album ever released by the Willem Breuker Kollektief as a jazz tentet (as opposed to the repertory ensemble they later became). In Holland contains the most creative orchestrations, and the most thrilling solo work by the Kollektief, and ranks among the best jazz albums of the '80s. Two of the songs here ("Tango Superior/Interruptie" and "To Be With Louis P.") were released on the compilation disk The Parrot, but the remainder were only available on vinyl as of 2001.

The first record of this two-LP set is essentially designed as a suite, beginning with a powerful overture, and continuing on through an uproarious tango featuring a comically frustrated Breuker on alto, a drunkenly careening showcase for the brilliant trumpeter Boy Raaymakers, a loving homage to Prokofiev, and a fleeting reference to Wagner. Altoist Bob Driessen soloing never sounded better, and the driving bass work of the invaluable Arjen Gorter causes one's jaw to drop. Next comes "To Be With Louis P.," a surging R&B number with Breuker in the hilarious role of sleazy lounge singer who nonetheless matches Maarten van Norden's wondrous tenor sax shouting note for note.

The second LP consists of four compositions, including a concertino by an obscure 17th century Swiss composer, and a ferocious reel called "Hopsa, Hopsa" that builds up, morphs, and goes bananas. It's an album highlight, featuring a breathtaking performance by WBK, and composed by the newcomer (who'd stick around) pianist Henk de Jonge. Also included is one of Breuker's most beautiful and moving compositions, "Marche Funèbre" (from his musical production De Vuyle Wasch, or 'Dirty Laundry'), whose themes are at once rich, somber, romantic, and inspired. Though the group lost quite a bit of freshness after the mid-'80s, In Holland qualifies as an extraordinary record by one of the most creative and enjoyable jazz ensembles to have emerged from Europe.

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