Willem Breuker Kollektief

Sensemaya

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By the late '80s, Willem Breuker began devoting a substantial part of his recorded output to what might be termed "repertoire" releases -- that is, albums containing a large portion of interpretations of 20th century classical and jazz compositions, often selecting enticingly obscure pieces in the process. Along with Metropolis and Parade, Sensemaya is one of the better, if uneven, examples of the approach. The title track is a colorful tone poem by the Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas, given perhaps a slightly heavy-handed treatment by Breuker with the intrusion of a tourist-like tinge of Mexicana. Breuker's own suite, "Four City Views," is a lengthy string of ideas featuring oboist Han de Vries, generally jazzy in character. At its best it swings along nicely, but much of it suffers from the ponderousness of all too many of his compositions of the '90s.

Happily, the disc picks up from here, beginning with the goofily sincere reading of the Dutch standard "Diep in Mijn Hart" where Kollektief trombonist Nico Nijholt croons for all he's worth and then some. Georges Antheil's "A Jazz Symphony" is accorded a rich and imaginative treatment, and its gloriously romantic finale would make the album worthwhile all by itself. But, after a fine and funny rendition of the novelty hit "The Typewriter," the real romantic high point of the album is achieved with Breuker's superb and unabashedly torchy arrangement of Cole Porter's "Night and Day," a 12-minute extravaganza featuring the throaty and unswerving voice of Greetje Kauffeld. He solidifies his neo-romantic credentials by closing out the disc with a version of Rachmaninoff's "Prelude Opus 3 nr. 2 in C sharp minor, scored beautifully for the Kollektief. The best pieces on this recording demonstrate that when he was willing to shed his irony and "simply" perform the music he loves, Willem Breuker was still quite capable of delivering the goods.

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