Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Van Der Werf / Veras / Dumoulin / Thys / Galland - 15/04/2007@L'Archiduc, Bruxelles

Bo Van Der Werf - bs
Nelson Veras - g
Jozef Dumoulin - Fender Rhodes
Nic Thys - b
Stéphane Galland - d
Fabian Fiorini - p

Though the members of this All-Star grouping knew each other well from other situations and draw to some extent on M-Base-related concepts, seemingly vast differences in personalities made the usual first-time grouping pitfalls inevitable.

Stéphane Galland and Nic Thys formed a generous partnership that swung and grooved in different, but compatible ways. The drummer applied a space-appopriate version of the complex yet irresistable asymetrical-layers-of-polyrhythms that are part of AKA Moon's signature style, while Thys laid down light, nimble, more straight-forward grooves. On a thoroughly mystifying "In Your Own Sweet Way," he even delved into a jazzy pulse, though without walking. I was surprised they played a standard at all, though I don't think anyone would have suspected them of playing one, had Bo Van Der Werf not announced it. What happened above the rhythm pair's implicit exuberance, though, reflected a quite different spirit, just as the dusky Archiduc interior contrasted with the bright, hot sun outside.

Baritone saxophone, guitar and Fender created a dirty grey mist of indeterminate, low-intensity melancholy whose surface subtly changed. Bo and Veras often intertwined their lines, the guitarist stepping forth for brief bursts of rapid Pat Metheny post-bop. Jozef Dumoulin shaded and suggested, playing more pianistically than I'm used to hearing him, but with as timbrally adroit as ever. An unaccompanied passage of glitchy glass-organ-sounding chords and low drones made for a lovely dream-like moment. Bo is one of the more inscrutable players I know. He is never loud, his tone always relatively neutral and his Messiaen-inspired harmonic sense ever elusive. This creates a sort of smooth, jet-black surface that's intriguing but ultimately inaccessible.

l-r: Laurent Blondiau, Nic Thys, Jozef Dumoulin

When the group came together for a riff over a tricky groove, I would mechanically be sucked in by the rhythm, but eventually I got irritated by my reaction, resentful of a superposition of timeful (i.e. Galland's kaleidoscopic rhythmic subdivisions) and timeless that never seemed to gel into a coherent whole. Fabian Fiorini sat in during the second set and his combination of dissonance and tumbling rhythm was welcome.