Art Van Damme

The Many Moods of Art

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This compilation is the kind of package that infuriates record collectors. BASF/MPS took too many shortcuts in the early '70s, particularly when they compiled three separate albums into a new two-record set, with both discs stored in the same fold-over jacket, and dropping several tracks in the process, while averaging just under a miserly 15 minutes per side. Add to it the lack of a personnel listing for each session, and it becomes a frustrating experience. Although the music of accordion player Art Van Damme isn't to every jazz fan's taste, it's good for laid-back listening. The first record is actually from a later group of sessions taped in 1970, with guitarist Joe Pass, vibraphonist Heribert Thusek, bassist Eberhard Weber, and drummer Kenny Clare. The solos are primarily by the leader and Thusek, while Pass sounds unusually restrained when he does take center stage, probably because it would have been very easy for him to overpower their best efforts. None of the arrangements of the six standards are very remarkable, though it is a pleasant outing. Serious Van Damme fans will curse the label for omitting half of the tracks from the original LP, Blue World. The second disc comes from a number of sessions recorded in 1967 and 1968 for the albums Ecstasy and Lullaby in Rhythm. Thusek is again on hand, along with guitarist Fred Rundquist, bassist Peter Witte, and drummer Charly Antolini. Though the dozen standards plus one original by the leader are enjoyable, these dates are a notch below the other one, particularly because Rundquist is not in Pass' league as a guitarist. By the mid-'70s, BASF/MPS was out of the record business, no doubt due in part to their disregard of the consumer.

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