Han Bennink

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Anyone who follows the vibrant Dutch jazz scene is familiar with the outstanding credentials of Han Bennink, Curtis Clark, and Ernst Glerum. Some, though, might associate them, and particularly drummer Bennink, almost exclusively with the radical, adventurous side of the spectrum. So, it may come as a bit of a surprise to hear this set of interpretations of Curtis Clark originals ensconced firmly within the mainstream tradition of modern jazz, harking back to the glory days of the late '50s. Recorded in 1994 and not released until ten years later, this recording is notable for the precise synchronicity of its players, the pristine beauty of the tunes, and the strong sense of swing that permeates each track. Han Bennink is quiet, even gentle, as he spurns the limelight, kicking hard only occasionally, and showing his skills as a timekeeper, and a bit more. When he solos on "Spooky Conversations," he pushes forward with the flair of a bunny rabbit scurrying to its home. Too, Ernst Glerum fits in like clockwork, blending perfectly, intoning lovely, choice notes, and sometimes soloing cautiously, as on "Duped." His beautiful arco technique on "Letter to South Africa" is a highlight of the album. Curtis Clark, though, is the prime force, his slightly quirky compositions providing depth that is more apparent with repeated listening. He takes the lion's share of the solos, starting and stopping with a vision that attractively blends melodic constructs with a delicate, sensitive touch. You can hear Monk in his voice, but also Bill Evans and Horace Silver. The results are not in any way groundbreaking, but there is an attractive retrospective element colored by the personalities of some of the finest Dutch masters.

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