Lucid Culture


CD Review: Eric Vloeimans’ Fugimundi – Live at Yoshi’s

In terms of lush, exuberant melody, this is without question the most beautiful album of the year in any style of music. Warm, plaintive, sometimes soaring, sometimes contemplative, this live recording by Dutch jazz trumpeter Eric Vloeimans, guitarist Anton Goudsmit and pianist Harmen Fraanje – just out on Challenge Records – captures a characteristic, richly memorable performance. If you get the chance to see this group, don’t pass it up. One part jazz, one part late 19th century Romanticism, with influences from the pampas of Argentina to the Portuguese coast, their style is indelibly unique. What a treat it must have been to be in the club the night this album was made. Yet for all the accessibility, there’s both an elusiveness and an allusiveness to the melodies that draws the listener in: any sense of contentedness is matched by an equivalent longing.

Goudsmit’s guitar opens it eerily, gently tremolo-picking a flamenco melody, Vloeinams finally adding a stately old world beauty, nostalgia balanced by poignancy. They make their way into a playful stop-and-start over what’s essentially a soul-pop song, Vloeimans employing his trademark shifts in intonation. The trio segue seamlessly into the third track, March of the Carpenter Ants, moving through a wary, chromatically-charged Vloeimans solo to a fascinating section akin to a film shot with three cameras onto a single screen a la the Woodstock documentary. Insistent, separate yet together, it’s a moment that screams out for the replay button. That, and headphones.

Goudsmit builds the fourth cut, Ernesto from a minimal intro to a darkly Robbie Krieger raga-inflected passage echoed by piano and trumpet, then shifts into suspenseful tango mode with an understatedly anguished David Gilmour feel that Vloeimans picks up on and takes to its logical crescendo. The next cut, Phillip works a pastoral, Jenny Scheinman-style melody into a gorgeously catchy theme with heavy Ellington overtones. Vloeimans finally goes all the way up on the wings of his glissandos and then down again on the gracefully choreographed Weimar blues Harry Bo, moving optimistically to centerstage against fatalistic piano and guitar. The other tracks on the album include a couple of blues numbers, the first of which morphs cleverly into a pop ballad, the second with a Georgia on My Mind feel with jaunty trumpet and spiky guitar. The only miss here is Somewhere Over the Rainbow, an exercise in implied melody, the trio taking care to skirt its central theme when what they should have done is left it off the set list entirely. Lucky fans can see Eric Vloeimans’ Fugimundi play September 27 at the Rotterdam International Jazz Festival.

September 12, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Concert Review: Eric Vloeimans and Florian Weber at the Stone, NYC 6/9/09

Dutch trumpeter Eric Vloeimans and German pianist Florian Weber treated a warmly receptive, full house to a fascinating, tuneful show that managed to be both cutting-edge and rich with jazz classicism. Vloeimans does not limit himself to his instrument’s traditional tones: while showing off both soaring clarity and a burred, rustic attack, he would frequently open a piece seemingly almost without embouchure (the pursed-lips position inside a horn’s mouthpiece) for a breathy, sax-like timbre. In places, it was as if there was a musical steampipe in the band. Likewise, Weber would frequently go inside the piano and judiciously pluck the strings for a banjo-like tone. On their last song, he went so far as to take off the newsboy cap he’d been wearing throughout the show, placed it inside on top of the strings and used it as mute, adding an impressive dynamic range to his plucking: this hat trick may be a standard part of his act.

Their first number worked the theme of a popular Indian folksong with often hypnotic shades of trumpet while Weber chose his spots to add incisive, minimalistic plucked notes. By contrast, a vintage Dave Brubeck tune got a glistening, gently crescendoing treatment, Vloeimans showing off some purist blues chops. They brought up drummer Ziv Ravitz, who would stick around for the rest of the show, launching into what Vloeimans said was a response to Buena Vista Social Club, clattering along with seemingly every bit of metal on the drum kit put to use while piano and trumpet shifted the groove to tango swing.

A beautifully lyrical, balmy trumpet tune with absolutely gorgeous, vintage 70s art-rock piano inflections (Rick Davies of Supertramp in particularly heartwrenching mode comes to mind) was followed by an effectively comedic number titled Bradshaw, inspired, said Vloeimans, by the sight of a bizarre-looking utility vehicle in an airport terminal. It was all about incongruity, and the band brought it all out with numerous amusingly jarring stylistic nonsequiturs, the drummer hamming it up with the most four-on-the-floor beat the club had probably ever seen while Vloeimans swung overhead, seemingly oblivious. They closed with a piece titled Fatima, not a Middle Eastern dance but a big, soulful, trad ballad, Vloeimans finally cutting loose and letting its crescendos ring out for all they were worth.

June 10, 2009 Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment