Willem Breuker Kollektief

WBK '79

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WBK '79 is a solid, representative album of the state of Breuker's unique Kollektief at the end of the '70s. The first cut, "Virgin's House Song," finds the ensemble at its inspired, wacky best, combining luscious melodies, tight arrangements, free soloing, and unexpected bits of lunacy (in this case, the closing coda for organ grinder). "Flat Jungle," originally composed for a filmed environmental documentary, has a lovely, probing bassline, allowing for expansive solos from the great trumpeter Boy Raaymakers and pianist Leo Cuypers, while "Rascals" is one of those infectious miniatures that Breuker seemed to turn out effortlessly (and that one only wishes would go on longer). This was also one of the first releases where his penchant for covering songs by earlier 20th century composers was realized. Here, perennial Breuker favorite Kurt Weill's "Song of Mandalay" is given a strong, propulsive reading, and Grieg's "Ase's Death" a properly somber one. Proper, that is, until the ending where the deadpan seriousness gives way to sobbing from the band members (!). The disc closes with a relatively traditional big-band piece by trombonist Willem van Manen; it's a bit stodgy compared to Breuker's dazzling arrangements, but offers nice solo spots (especially for young tenor powerhouse Maarten van Norden) and includes several humorous false endings. Not among the very finest records by the Kollektief in this period (the recording quality is also a little less sharp than one would hope), WBK '79 is nonetheless a good effort and well worth hearing for the Breuker aficionado.

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