Friday, August 11, 2006

be.mp3: vvg trio - untamed

As a trio, Bruno Vansina (alto, soprano), Gulli Gudmundsson (from Iceland, bass) and Teun Verbruggen (drums) started out playing bop, then progressively opened up to more improvised music. In Orbit is the VVG Trio's second album, a two-CD affair. The first CD, a studio record, allows the group to flaunt its togetherness and combination of improvisation and melody. The second CD is live, with pianist Jozef Dumoulin and flutist Magic Malik sitting in. Neither knew the music and hearing them learn it in real time is fascinating, as they don't hesitate to push the trio around a bit. So there's a good balance between studio perfection and on-the-job rough edges. It's a risky move and sometimes the music drags (20 minutes of "All Or Nothing At All" is just way too much), but there are enough unexpected moments of beauty for it to be more than worthwhile, for example, on Kenny Wheeler's "Mark Time" there's a simply gorgeous passage where the whole band blends together into something fluid and full-bodied. Maybe that's the meaning of Whitney Balliett's "sound of surprise:" not that you've never heard anything like it before, but that the music is open enough for truly unscripted incidents to occur.

The second CD is also a too-rare opportunity to hear Dumoulin on acoustic piano. The Archiduc's has a real jazz club piano tuning (as defined by Eric Dolphy's 5 Spot albums), but Dumoulin's work on Fender Rhodes has made him a real expert at texture, and he gets some nice ones here. He kind of reminds me of Keith Tippett at times, actually.

"Untamed" is just the trio. It starts with a vigorous Vansina solo, then states a head that's boppish in a Greg Osby way, but less cerebral. I like Gudmundsson's twanginess and how Teun starts thwacky, then gets into straight-ahead swing. Vansina charges ahead intelligently for nearly 6 minutes, but then, after a brief bass interlude, returns with a melodic riff that serves as accompaniment for a roiling drum solo. The track kind of shows several sides of the VVG Trio at once.

VVG Trio - Untamed