Music Reviews

Leo Cuypers

Heavy Days are Here Again

Han Bennink

Nerve Beats


New Dutch Swing? Goddamn, it does! These two are more goodies for us, courtesy of the benevolent Unheard Music Series, an imprint of Atavistic dedicated to reviving long lost free-jazz/avant-garde gems lost to time and limited editions (the fiendish collectors of, most likely).

Leo Cuypers (piano) heads up a Dutch cast of William Breuker (saxes and B-flat clarinet), Arjen Gorter (bass), and Han Bennink (drums.) I haven’t been keeping track of the Dutch jazz scene (with the exception of Mr. Bennink, who almost always manages to be exceptional), but this may be one of the most robust pieces of free jazz I’ve heard. The compositions are so sweet, and the improvised parts are so frenzied and energetic but still are (the mark of a good band) so tight. Just listen to how deftly the band manages the heads! Wow. “Blue Tango” starts sultry, bends, willows and slips surreptitiously around. “Stefanus” goes in a totally opposite direction with a march that slowly unravels and goes delightfully awry. It’s crazy, fluttering, good wholesome fun.

Han Bennink didn’t come by the title “clown prince” by just goofing off. No, he’s turned inspired lunacy into an artform through years of hard work. Very simply, Nerve Beats is an hour-long percussion solo using everything from his drum kit to drum machine (fairly primitive ones, considering the recording is from ‘73) to (very likely) the kitchen sink. Bennink is an absolute monster player who is really a joy to listen to. It’s more good clean fun. Providing only that the awful drum solo in “In A Gadda Da Vida” hasn’t spoiled the whole concept for you.

Atavistic, P.O. Box 578266, Chicago, IL 60657;

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