Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Bart Defoort/Nathalie Loriers Quartet - 02/02/2007@Music Village, Brussels

Bart Defoort - ts
Nathalie Loriers - p
Philippe Aerts - b
Mimi Verderaeme - d

I'm not sure why this was billed as the Defoort-Loriers Quartet, as it was clearly the saxophonist's: he made the announcements and wrote almost all of the original tunes. Jazzques has chronicled the various line-ups Defoort has been trying out recently. I haven't seen them, but these four are pretty much the best exponents of contemporary straight-ahead jazz in Belgium. If they get to continue playing together, it's hard to imagine a better combination.

Maybe I was still exhausted from the previous very late night and therefore softened up, but it was really great to hear this, at least for the first 1.5 sets. Perhaps the late Whitney Balliett's definition of jazz as the sound of surprise has become over-used: sometimes, jazz is just the sound of delight, and that's fine. This quartet's swing - so unpretentious, relative to its high quality, that it seemed understated - was precisely that. Unlike Defoort's rather detached 2003 album The Lizard Game and band, this group actually sounded like it had something invested in these tunes.

Defoort is a player who's nimble without being imposing. His tunes often had some stop 'n' go edge, but never really transferred it into the blowing sections. His solos developed unhurriedly and even at their most frenetic, he remained soberly unexuberant. His sound was relatively light and contained, but grew warmer and more ample on standards like "Darn That Dream" and "My One And Only Love." It's only on the rhythm changes-based "Hope You Got It" at the end of the third set that he unleashed some uncharacteristic bluesy honking.

Philippe Aerts contributed the only non-Defoort original, "Forward." Its neatly-accented tenor-piano-bass unison line, with no supporting chordal playing, made the quartet sound like a big band section. Maybe that's not too surprising, as all three are regular Brussels Jazz Orchestra members.

Ever since listening to last year's reissue of Silent Spring, I've become a Nathalie Loriers convert. Her consummate grace and light, caressing touch mean that she never gives the impression of straining towards a peak. Perhaps this is a more feminine conception of musical architecture. On "Central Park West," her light-hearted stroll-in-the-park of a solo was underscored by the rhythm section's loosely bossa-tinged patterns. While her beautiful Bill Evans-styled intro to "My One And Only Love" was an unsurprising deviation from her core style, she also held her own on a Defoort original that built up to a Coltrane Quartet 6/8 feel, with tumbling drums and Aerts solidly hitting the chords' roots for Loriers to freely develop complex voicings over.

I very rarely go to the Music Village, mostly because of its relatively high prices and misgivings about the audience it attracts, but I have to admit that it's very tastefully decorated and boasts what are probably the only toilets where you can admire Brad Mehldau promoting Hanlet pianos while standing at the urinal. The pillars in the lines of sight remain as annoying as ever, though. I bumped into Flagey's PR person, Muriel Hasson, who reminded me that McCoy Tyner is holding a two-night stand there in March, with Charnett Moffett and Eric Gravatt. Hopefully, he'll be accepting interviews.