Leo Cuypers

Heavy Days Are Here Again

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Leo Cuypers was the original pianist of the Willem Breuker Kollektief, although, at the time of this recording, he had just been replaced by Henk de Jonge. Happily, there appear to have been few ill feelings, as he's joined by Breuker, Kollektief bassist extraordinaire Arjen Gorter, and the always wonderful Han Bennink for a romping quartet set that can well serve as an ideal introduction to the Dutch jazz scene of the '70s and '80s. Though Cuypers had frequently been heard playing in an ultra-rapid, jackhammer style, he was also quite the romantic and his own melodies are lovely, catchy, and rich in improvisatory possibilities. One can hear in his themes traces of Tristano, Carla Bley (especially in "Blue Tango"), and even Keith Jarrett on occasion, but the group as a whole is singular sounding. Breuker, by and large, reins in his sardonic tendencies and produces some of his finest straight-ahead jazz playing on record while still feeling comfortable enough to stretch into free improv once in a while. Gorter is rock solid throughout and Bennink manages to get through most of the session without inducing a belly laugh -- no mean feat for him! Cuypers is, unfortunately, generally unknown to U.S. audiences; Atavistic's release in 2000 of this previously impossible to find album (first issued on BVHaast in 1982) should be treated as a welcome opportunity to discover one of the finer European jazz pianists of the late 20th century. Recommended.

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