Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Eric Boeren Quartet...

If anybody is left out there, sorry for the lengthy gaps between posts! As devoted followers of these pages and transient rubberneckers alike can't fail to have grasped, life has been disrupted lately by a house move. We've been 'moved in' to the new/old house for over three weeks now, but you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise if you were to take a look at the sheer volume of life detritus still waiting to be unpacked.

Priorities are everything at a time like this, and my CDs are all accessible, the Macs are networked, and the bike is set up in the garage on the static trainer. The cat is back to three meals a day and the wardrobes are filling up (though not with my clothes). We'll get there, and life is getting easier. A very welcome distraction came last Friday in the form of another of Paul Bream's 'On The Outside' series. It was an early return for our stroopwafel munching buddy Wilbert de Joode, playing bass in what could loosely be described as an Ornette Coleman tribute band.

Nominally led by trumpeter Eric Boeren who shared frontline duties with eccentric Amsterdam saxophonist Sean Bergin, the real star of the show was however drummer Paul Lovens, drawn into a jazz context whilst still maintaining his finely honed persona as Aachen's oldest naughty schoolboy. The group's language was very much based around the classic Coleman quartets and trios of the early to mid-'60s. Themes were played precisely and literally before improvisation and deconstruction took over. There was never a time when anybody strayed too far from home, the controlled shapeshifting of the group offering listeners the kind of soft end experimentation accessible to larger than usual numbers.

Perfect, had the room been capable of holding large numbers, and had large numbers shown an inclination to attend on what was a bitterly cold evening. The tiny room was full of period character, as well as bohemian characters, and there was nothing in the evening's music that left me with any feelings of doubt or disappointment. At times Lovens' explosive propulsion bordered on the ridiculous, exaggerating his accents with thrilling lunacy. I've only ever seen him play hard core improv in the past (Schlippenbach Trio), and this came as a breath of fresh air. You could easily imagine Han Bennink doing this kind of stuff, but much as I love him I was glad it was Lovens whose humour is more deadpan than slapstick.

Boeren had a certain amount of charisma without really being a convincing leader. His trumpet lines for me were just a little too convoluted to make sense. Bergin on the other hand showed vast reserves of musicianly skill, and Wilbert played the whole gamut and had a massive role in shaping the directions of each piece. Anybody who hadn't read the flyers might well have thought that this was his band.

Great music, good coffee, a Friday night out for Louise on Newcastle's jumping Quayside, and with this being an exclusive UK show it was also another feather in the cap for my friends at Jazz North East. Next week they've got Steve Grossman, a man who has been pretty much invisible since his stints with Miles and Stone Alliance. I saw him over a decade ago with John Hicks and he played up a storm that night, so I'm sure I'll be reporting back. For now though I'm still thinking about those crazy guys last Friday. I bet they drank the ferry dry on the way home the next evening...

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