Willem Breuker Kollektief

To Remain

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To Remain contains three pieces (including the 11-movement title suite) recorded in 1989 as well as one from 1984 and the CD issue of "Driebergen-Zeist," the superb composition from the Kollektief's 1984 album of the same name. The difference between the works from the early '80s and those from later in the decade makes for an interesting comparison. "Driebergen-Zeist" is one of the most astonishing things Breuker ever composed, and it's certainly a pleasure to have it on disc. The piece, entirely written out with no solos, reels from one beautiful theme to another, themes only tangentially related to each other yet cohering into a delicious whole. There's a sense of wonder combined with the glee of a kid in a candy shop that he exploits with passion and humor, going so far to have composed sections with some band members "misplaying" their parts while others exasperatedly wait for them to get it right. "Hap Sap (But Not From Jaffa)" is a riotous whirlwind of a piece, using overlaid Middle Eastern riffs piled so deep one thinks it has to topple in on itself, but the band keeps its balance while racing at a furious pace, supporting a thrilling trumpet solo by Andy Altenfelder. Toward the end of the '80s, as heard on the remainder of the album, one gets a slight sense that Breuker has become too "comfortable" in his ability to compose for this ensemble. The works remain enjoyable (especially the driving "P.T.T.") and, as usual, are performed with the incredible tightness for which the group has become known, but something of the spark of his earlier work is missing, as if the entire enterprise has become too easy for him. One might have hoped that Breuker would have occasionally returned to the free improvising environments that nourished him at the beginning of his career in order to revitalize his composing, but he appeared more willing to rest on well-earned laurels. Overall, To Remain is still a very good release, if not up to the heights of earlier Kollektief albums like In Holland.