Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Don Braden / Joris Teepe Quartet - In the Spirit of Herbie Hancock (Live at De Witte) (O.A.P. Records, 2020)

Saxophonist and flutist Don Braden and double bassist Joris Teepe have been collaborating in many different musical situations for more than twenty-five years, most recently on the 2016 album Conversations. This album presents a live performance where they are joined by Rob van Bavel on piano and Owen Hart Jr. on drums in a live performance recorded during November of 2019 at The Hague in The Netherlands. They focus on the music of the great pianist and composer Herbie Hancock, arranging a cross-section of his compositions to form a varied program, adding two of their own compositions that were strongly influenced by Hancock as well. "Maiden Voyage" works well as a lead-off tune, it is a familiar theme that the jazz savvy in the audience can immediately grasp, and the enigmatic nature of the composition allows the players a lot of room to develop individual and group expression. Pianist Rob van Bavel does yeoman's work here and throughout the concert, not trying to be Hancock by proxy, but playing the music with imagination and vigor. Braden takes an excellent tenor saxophone solo that he is able to develop at length, aided admirably by an alternately swinging and seeking rhythm section. They follow with "Watermelon Man" which admirably displays the funky and populist side of Hanocock's work. van Bavel's piano is bright and strong and the whole infectious performance is buoyed by Hart Jr.'s crisp drumming. The band as a whole really dives into this performance with a great deal of energy and the crowd just eats it up. The group works well on some of Hancock's more impressionistic music as well, developing a speculative full band theme and improvisation on "Speak Like a Child" that glides through that mysterious and atmospheric sound world in a confident and imaginative manner. Braden moves to flute on "Butterfly," which he plays in a lithe and nimble fashion, gracefully floating over the piano, bass and drums unit which plays with the utmost refinement. Overall, this album worked very well and the fans assembled at the jazz club were treated to a concert of excellent music from a band that was dialed in and ready to play, and this disc should be enjoyed by anyone who has an affinity for modern mainstream jazz. In the Spirit of Herbie Hancock (Live at De Witte)

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