Like a lot of European jazz labels, the Dutch Challenge Records has brought us recordings by both American and European improvisers. Recorded in Brussels, Belgium in 1994, Simply Be is an example of the latter. Carolyn Breuer, a gifted alto and soprano saxophonist who grew up in Germany but moved to Holland, co-led this post-bop session with Dutch vocalist Fee Claassen, who is featured on all of the selections. Though Claassen sings with a slight trace of a Dutch accent, it's only a slight trace -- her English is quite understandable on interpretations of "The End of a Love Affair" and "Dream Dancing" as well as post-bop compositions by Breuer and her father, German trombonist Hermann Breuer. Claassen, who has an impressive range and solid scatting ability, can be very intellectual, but she values feeling as well as technique and avoids sounding cold. Breuer, meanwhile, plays convincingly on both the alto and soprano sax, and she enjoys a strong rapport with Claassen as well as with pianist Sebastian Altekamp, bassist Stephan Van Wylick, drummer Joost Patocka, tenor saxophonist Ferdinand Povel, and her father Hermann. Simply Be falls short of remarkable, but it's an enjoyable illustration of the fact that not all worthwhile jazz comes from the American side of the Atlantic.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson