Sunday, June 25, 2006

JazzFact - Antwerpen, 24/06/2006

[addition: the musicians' names are Seppe Gebruers (p), Nathan Wouters (b), Jakob Warmenbol (d)]

In February, I went to see the Brad Mehldau Trio and was genuinely surprised at how young the crowd was. IVN's 17 and 14 year old sisters are budding jazz fans that I'm doing a little bit to nuture, and the eldest's boyfriend is also a fan, but all three play instruments. The BMT concert's crowd, however, seemed to confirm a more general, young enthusiasm for the music.

JazzFact is a part of this generation: the pianist is 16, the bassist 17, the drummer 18. One of the consequences of their youth led to a rarely heard bandstand phrase: after checking his mobile phone, the bassist quietly said "My mother's on her way." They played a few standards: "All Of You," "All The Things You Are," "'Round Midnight" (at 2 PM), "Blue Monk." Normally, such young groups (and even more veteran groups) tend to play standards in a very, well, standard way, to the point of cliché, eliciting an "A for effort" kind of response. JazzFact is different: they took all the themes apart (the pianist's spreading of "Blue Monk"'s riff-theme all over the form was particularly succesful) and fearlessly launched into very open and interactive stream-of-conciousness playing. A very bold approach, that revealed imrpessive amounts of sophistication and knowledge.

The tiny, stick-thin pianist was visibly passionate, often going aggressively far out enough to make me wonder if he'd become the next Fred Van Hove. But it wasn't random, as was made clear when he came out of a free-time section with a Swing Era figure, or when, on "Blue Monk," the trio oscillated between free and bluesy swing. The drummer interpolated swing rhythms and cleverly injected polyrhythms into rubato passages.

Obviously, there were a also a lot of nits that could be picked: the tunes ran rather long, there could have been more dynamic and textural variety and rhythmic cohesiveness, etc. However, I'd rather be impressed by the trio's collaborative, listening-based approach and trust that they'll continue working at it enough that the next time I see them, it won't be in a random bar lost in the suburbs of Antwerpen.