Willem Breuker

...Superstars

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Though his roots were in the European free jazz movement of the '60s, since the founding of his Kollektief in 1974 Willem Breuker allowed himself scarce few occasions to play in looser, more improvised settings. This live session, while notably less "free" than the great majority of FMP recordings, was one such event (another being a duo with drummer Han Bennink from 1984). At the time, Cuypers was the Kollektief's pianist, and the two share an obvious affinity for a balanced approach to freedom/composition, a willingness to mess with traditional forms, and a tendency toward humor both subtle and broad. Many of the pieces have melodic lines that were clearly precomposed, Breuker's with more than a whiff of leftist workers' songs from the '30s, Cuypers' having more of a wistful and romantic sensibility. This latter quality seems partly derived from Cuypers' clear affection for composers such as Gershwin and Keith Jarrett; this affection was apparent in fine recordings under his own name from around the same time, like Heavy Days Are Here Again and Zeeland Suite. Both musicians are as prone to drop musical references to Bach and Beethoven as to Charlie Parker, all of which occur in this performance. Highlights of the show include a humorous deconstruction of "There's No Business Like Show Business" and a moving tribute to the recently deceased saxophone wizard Rahsaan Roland Kirk, with Breuker on soprano and tenor saxophones simultaneously, which closes out the album. Worth hearing for Breuker fans as well as admirers of the less-recorded but often brilliant Cuypers.

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