Lucid Culture


CD Review: The Joris Teepe Big Band – We Take No Prisoners

The album title may be a boast, but this is adrenalizing stuff. The Joris Teepe Big Band came about when the Dutch-American bassist found himself commissioned to write for the North Netherlands Symphony Orchestra. Word got out, and he was invited to do a guest spot with the Bucharest Radio Big Band. Scaling down the orchestral arrangements to fit a seventeen-piece big band, he discovered he had something and this is the result. As befits a large ensemble, the compositions are long, ablaze with light, color and energy. Smooth jazz, it’s not. Teepe’s greatest strength is an ear for a hook: as complex and ornate as many of his charts are, he knows that hooks are simple and direct. With considerable exuberance, the group shoots straight for the mark and hits it every time.

The fast swing number that opens the album, Flight 643 begins with an almost dixieland flourish and keeps going, sax driving a Coltrane-esque descending progression into a big blazing crescendo and variations, ruminative piano against incisive bass and drums back up into the big arrangement. The title track opens with a scurrying rhythm, piano climbing and establishing an ambitious mood into one of those characteristic big hooks that works itself into another, even louder descending riff, and then an intriguingly shifting series of permutations. Even more ambitious, Peace on Earth has the orchestra echoing two guitar passages: warmly lyrical wah-wah in the opening section swirled around by the reeds, later the horns maintaining the intensity of a fiery, distorted guitar interlude, passing it off to Peter Brainin on sax who brings it all the way up.

Interestingly, the best song on the album is the quietest. With its lush, Gil Evans-style chart, Almost Lucky is strikingly slow and atmospheric, working up a big, towering four-note classical phrase. Finally, Teepe takes a solo mid-song and instead of cutting loose, he makes every judicious, careful note count, returning behind the curtain nonchalantly as the horns swell. The most retro track here is It Is Peculiar, with its catchy, bluesy swing and an ebullient trumpet solo from John Eckert. The cd wraps up with the big swinging Basie-esque epic, The Princess and the Monster, a clever narrative as well as a showcase for some sailing Don Braden sax work and later Jon Davis’ vividly lyrical piano. Teepe plays frequently in town: watch this space.

September 6, 2009 - Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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