Leo Cuypers

Theatre Music

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As the original pianist for the Willem Breuker Kollektief, Leo Cuypers was known for his flamboyant style and relentless attack as well as for his unusual ability -- and eager willingness -- to go from Cecil Taylor to Tchaikovsky in the course of a single solo. On his own he showed a marked preference for more melodic and romantic material, as is evident on this release. His themes are catchy and hummable, often possessing a gospel-tinged beauty that owes more than a little to Keith Jarrett; in fact, one of the pieces is titled "Jarrett." Half of the record is devoted to a fine trio performance where Kollektief bassist Arjen Gorter shines especially brightly; it's some of the most readily enjoyable, swingingest jazz to have emerged from the Dutch avant-garde scene. For the second half, a suite for a play called Jan Rap en Z'n Maat, multi-reedist Willem Breuker is added to the mix (along with some slightly cheesy synth playing by Cuypers), but the general character of the music remains the same. While making references to various free and modernist traditions, Cuypers' music is, at heart, playful and ariose. Anyone wishing to gently dip his or her toes into the European jazz avant-garde could do worse than this hard-to-find album.

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