Willem Breuker Kollektief

Willem Breuker Kollektief Meets Djazzex

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Music written for the Djazzex dance troupe, this album is all too representative of the staid (though still extremely competent) rut that Breuker found himself in during the '90s. His previously rich melodic sense seemed to lose color and drama, his once intricate and driving rhythms became more plodding and forced. Meets Djazzex opens with a jazzy overture that's bouncy and enjoyable enough but -- with the exception of some strong solos -- sounds like any dozen mainstream ensembles, not what Breuker's fans had come to expect. There's the obligatory tango, a work song that requires some degree of work to wade through, some allusions to Gershwin, and a revival of the composition "Minimal" (one of his less successful numbers on Bob's Gallery). The sheer musicianship of almost all of the Kollektief's members is what saves the disc from being a total loss. Henk de Jonge is effervescent throughout on piano, the two superb trumpeters (Raaymakers and Altenfelder) are in fine form and stalwart bassist Arjen Gorter is, as usual, a marvel to hear. Relative newcomer Nico Nijholt contributes a humorous, overwrought vocalization on "Just for Nico" but one could only wish that, in general, they had been given less dreary material to work with. Recommended for Breuker completists only.

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