In 2003, a British publication ran an article claiming that the future of jazz lies in Europe, and that the United States is no longer the jazz Mecca it once was. While it's premature and shortsighted to write off the U.S. where jazz is concerned -- the U.S. is still the home of countless major-league improvisers -- there is no denying the importance of the European jazz market. From Stockholm to Paris to Milan, there is an impressive amount of jazz activity in Europe, and any jazz enthusiast who ignores Europe is bound to overlook some promising artists. Tineke Postma, for example, is a Dutch alto/soprano saxophonist who shows some promise on her debut album, First Avenue. Recorded in 2002 and 2003, this CD favors a post-bop orientation and draws on influences that range from Jackie McLean to Joe Henderson, John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter. Nothing groundbreaking occurs, but the material is generally solid -- and Postma shows herself to be an articulate, lucid, clean-sounding soloist with a strong sense of melody. Postma has technique, but she doesn't beat listeners over the head with it, or take a notes-for-the-sake-of-notes approach to improvisation; the saxophonist chooses her notes wisely whether she is stretching out on the alto or the soprano. And thankfully, Postma doesn't inundate listeners with overdone warhorses. The only standard that she tackles on this CD is Joe Henderson's "Isotope"; most of the selections are Postma originals, which range from the mildly funky "Joe's Tune" (which was written in memory of Henderson) to the contemplative "Firenze" (presumably an ode to Florence, Italy) and the wistful "Dear Mr. Evans" (which acknowledges the influential pianist Bill Evans). First Avenue doesn't pretend to reinvent the post-bop wheel; regardless, this is a memorable, if derivative, debut for the Dutch saxophonist.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson