The clever, resourceful, and just plain fun Michiel Braam does it again, this time with his 13-piece Bik Bent Braam, which for this recording focuses on bringing to life mostly older tunes. Braam understands the jazz tradition, and can re-orchestrate Ellington's "Mood Indigo," for example, in a way that is both respectful and original, not to mention forward-looking. Braam's band includes some of the cream of the Dutch avant-garde, including cornetist Eric Boeren, bassist Wilbert De Joode, trombonist Wolter Wierbos, and alto saxophonist Bart van der Putten. Everyone takes turns soloing, often in styles not customarily associated with these freestyle radicals. Braam is no neo-conservative, though. His arrangements incorporate the pulsating beats of decades past, and often for sustained periods. But, he also is right at home with modern post-modern harmonies, and the way he combines them is what makes his music spin with delight. The recognizable themes ("Pink Panther" and "The Man I Love") give it all a solid base, from which Braam works his magic.
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AllMusic Review by Steve Loewy