Leo Cuypers

In Amsterdam

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This live recording from the original pianist for the Willem Breuker Kollektief finds Leo Cuypers roving over the very wide spectrum of his vision, from lush romanticism to knotty modernism. His attack is extremely clear and precise, even when playing at dazzling speeds. At the same time, no matter how abstract the overt thematic material, Cuypers' approach is always imbued with an underlying wistfulness, even tenderness. One gets the impression he would be very happy playing bittersweet romantic ballads if he could, but feels compelled to explore the avant-garde canon. This makes for an enticing tension in material that might have otherwise been overly schmaltzy and, in turn, softens the blows of the more atonal pieces. When he simply lets loose and caroms through one of his delicious, gospel-tinged pieces like the concluding "Skinned Ahead/Jarrett," he revels in the moment and causes the listener to forget any petty distinctions. As of 2001, Atavistic's release of Cuypers' quartet session, Heavy Days Are Here Again, was the only readily available sample of his work. His other BVHaast albums are difficult to come by, but well worth picking up if one gets the chance.

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