NedSym Lite

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Crossroads Review

by James Manheim

The mysteriously named NedSym Lite is the light-music chamber ensemble of the Netherlands (Nederlands) Symphony Orchestra, which here delivers a mix of popular songs, jazz, traditional folk pieces, and originals by the group's bassist, Tim Nobel. The last-named of these is one factor that sets this release apart from similar efforts, and it testifies to the unusually deep understanding of classic popular American styles among a certain stratum of Dutch musicians. Nobel's pieces have attractive tunes with the elusive quality of making you think you've heard them somewhere before. Elsewhere the program stretches back to the pre-World War I Central European coffee house and forward to Cole Porter and Astor Piazzolla (with bandoneón, with an unexpected appearance of the Yiddish-language hit titled here Bei mir bistu shein). Several pieces shift in and out of jazz backing, adding yet another layer of variety, and Ravel's Tomb, track 12, is a jazz remaking of Le tombeau de Couperin. It's a pleasant if rather loose mix; the meaning of the Crossroads title is quite general (it refers to the Dutch title of one of Nobel's pieces, as well as to the vaguely international nature of the program), and the whole lacks a certain cohesion. But it's full of both surprises and original ideas. The church ambiance contributed nothing to the relaxed sense of fun that underlies the album at its best.

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