Sunday, September 16, 2007

Bert Joris Quartet - 14/09/2007@De Roma, Antwerpen

Bert Joris - tp, flh (myspace)
Dado Moroni - p
Ira Coleman - b
Dré Pallemaerts - d

Bert Joris is not the kind of trumpeter to blow you away with volume or chops. He is a veteran now, but early in his apprenticeship, Joris felt an affinity to the likes of Art Farmer, Miles Davis and Kenny Dorham and has continued to cultivate a different kind of power, based in precisely aimed cantabile lyricism and emotionally expressive shadings. During this concert, he never sought to dominate his sidemen or soar above them, but always let himself be almost submerged by them. That he never quite was gave his playing much of its appealing sense of controlled vulnerability, along with a buttery flügelhorn and slinky Harmon mute.

As last time, "Magone" was a highlight, Joris's movements between the centre and the edges of the pocket creating a delightful tension. The leader's greatest moment of the night came at the end of the second set, with the first few choruses of "I Fall In Love Too Easily." The arrangement paired the trumpeter first with Moroni, then with Ira Coleman, and in the nakedness of the contexts his every nuance was perfect, delicate and infinitely touching. Earlier, Coleman had sparked the concert's first moment of grace, with an unaccompanied introduction to "To Philip:" a thick tone, a wide array of techniques (such as when his left hand evoked an oud by plucking on the neck) and gentle precision were transparently deployed in service of a beautiful, deep musicality.

De Roma is a pittoresque old theater/cinema that is semi-dilapidated, or, more precisely, recently semi-renovated. The vast ground floor was strewn with wooden tables, creating an atmosphere equal parts Cinema Paradiso (as Oana noted), a jazz club and a beer hall. The quartet's repertoire, entirely original apart from the standard mentioned above, complemented each element of this combination, with Moroni's take on Maiden Voyage-era Herbie Hancock, the funky soul-jazz of "Science and Signatures" and the encore of "Benoit." The latter is a light-hearted tune based on a composition by the Flemish 19th-century composer Peter Benoit, set to an old-fashioned bounce. Antwerpenaars know the original, but don't necessarily know where it comes from, which, according to the liner notes to the Brussels Jazz Orchestra's The Music of Bert Joris, the trumpeter's setting of it is meant to describe the following scene:

Imagine yourself standing atop the Antwerp cathedral early one morning, overlooking the waking city.The wind softly stirs the carillon, and while a nighthawk loudly makes his way home, life slowly gets into gear...