F.I. Quartet

Live at Free Music XXVII Anterwerp, 2000

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Although the quality of this live recording is less than stellar, it is filled with some remarkable improvisations. The underrated Dutch saxophonist Luc Houtkamp is the driving force behind the F.I. Quartet, who, while not breaking new ground, provides some unusual instrumental surprises. Wildly adventurous trumpeter Herb Robertson, for example, doubles on flute, while celebrated pianist Fred van Hove chimes in on accordion for lengthy portions. Lesser-known percussionist Ivo Vander Borght holds his own, with powerful statements on the demanding opener, "First Interpellation," and appropriately sensitive playing elsewhere. Van Hove waxes lyrically at length and without cliché on "First Interpellation," building slowly and transforming simple lines into majestic statements that purposely fall apart when deconstructed. He is a killer on accordion, which translates directly from the keyboard. Robertson plays a somewhat subordinate role, with his flutes grooving and his trumpet interjecting a rough though enlightened presence. Houtkamp is the predominate voice, his tenor absorbing the latest advances on the horn and sounding more and more like Brits Evan Parker and John Butcher. The saxophonist wrestles playfully with Robertson's trumpet on "Four Iterations," with Houtkamp honking, fluttering, and trilling against Robertson's punctuated jabs and Van Hove's crescendoing keys. Van Hove's accordion on the final "For If" lends a circus-like air, but the others reign it in, as Houtkamp squeaks reservedly and Robertson plays lovely extended tones. Through the years, Luc Houtkamp has managed to maintain a low profile while participating in projects with some of the best musicians on the planet. This one continues that tradition.

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