Martin Fondse


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This Dutch jazz octet (forget their name) exists in a continuum of those very groups of their countrymen who walk the line traversing American jazz formalism of the swing and bebop era, the vanguard of the '60s, and the pop kitsch found in various trendy kinds of Caribbean rhythms. Fondse is a phenomenal arranger and pianist. His tight, loopy, humorous, and ultimately elegant charts set this band apart from the crowd of Euro wannabes and their American counterparts who possess a false sense of superiority. As evidenced here, there is literally no style of music that Fondse finds off limits, whether it be calypso ("Out in the Country With the Lowlands Cowboys"), blues ("Snow Motion"), noir jazz ("A Slightly Frightening Nightingale"), or New Orleans stomp ("Out to Dance With the Urban Indians"). With two reeds, one woodwind, a trumpet, and a trombone holding the front line, and with his piano, a bassist, and a drummer, Fondse can take the liberties many would only attempt with a big band and get away with them. His compositions are identified by their wide, rich, and lush swathes of color and their warm humanity, which set them apart from those of other jazz composers. This octet can blow with the best of them, but is capable and perhaps even prefers to create recordings of wondrous originality with human warmth as their resonant communicating emotion. This is a solid date from top to bottom and should be in any collection of large-group recordings.

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