VITAL WEEKLY

VITAL WEEKLY reviews our two new releases with familiar ‘wit‘. Both albums are available from our bandcamp store.

HUGO COSTA & PHILIPP ERNSTING – THE ART OF CRASHING (CD by New Wave Of Jazz)
JACKSON & SERRIES & VANDERSTRAETEN – DANDELION (CD by New Wave Of Jazz)

“History does not only repeat itself”, Guy Peters’ opening line for the liner notes for the Hugo Costa and Philipp Ernsting CD. I
have to correct him. History is not a scientific experiment that can be repeated to verify the results. Peters explains that the Dutch improvisation world was in the old days mainly in Amsterdam, and thus, other scenes were easily snowed under and that something similar is the case these days. But New Wave Of Jazz has released music from Rotterdam before, and these two musicians are from the same city. Drummer Philipp Ernsting is part of AIM, a collective of improvisers creating opportunities for experimentation. Hugo Costa, originally from Portugal but now in Rotterdam, plays the alto saxophone. Two years ago, they recorded the six pieces on ‘The Art Of Crashing’, one wild free jazz/improvisation. I know, I keep saying that Vital Weekly is buried with improvisation/free jazz/jazz music and that I don’t think we’re the right platform for this. But, when I was thinking about the noise the other day and said that a noise release a week is quite alright (or even two), I guess I could 
say the same about free jazz. Or, perhaps, about so much music; is there any music I could hear all day? Now there’s an interesting question. So, here I am, Saturday afternoon, still ‘at it’, the review business. In the meantime, I am sitting in my comfy chair, reading today’s paper and listening to the wild free jazz. of Costa and Ernsting. And, oddly enough, I dig it. I think ‘dig’ is a jazz word but is it? Whatever. Unlike Peters, I can’t put this into any historical context, so I have to take his word for it. John Coltrane, Ken Vandermark, Paal Nilssem-Love, Evan Parker, Colin Webster & Andrew Lisle are a few names I recognized, sometimes because I wrote about some of them. For me, it was mostly the high energy level that had, oddly enough, a soothing character on me.

The other new release by New Wave Of Jazz is also wild but slightly different. With Costa and Ernsting the wildness reflects in the chaotic and speedy approach to the instruments. In the case of Dirk Serries (acoustic guitar), Kris Vanderstraeten (percussion, drums) and Tom Jackson (clarinet). Here, there is less chaos as such, but the three players use similar freedom to produce whatever music they find necessary. Maybe with a touch more control and with more listening and interaction together. Perhaps that aspect, the conversation, is not as in the other one, but it is certainly here. Maybe that’s the reason why the music is gentler. Maybe softer is a better word, or more minor, with both abstract and melodic sides. The latter is mostly from the clarinet, where Tom Jackson stays on the musical side. His instrument remains to sound like a clarinet. Serries, on the other hand, tortures his instrument no end. You can recognize this as a guitar, but that’s it. He plucks, hits, and twists the strings. Vanderstraeten operates on the middle ground. Sure, you recognize the drums and percussion pieces; he hits them but also plays them with other objects, and there is the occasional bow across the cymbals and toms. A mixture of convention and abstraction. Like the other, this is not easy music to access, certainly if one has little experience or, like me, is not too knowledgeable. It unfolds more when one takes more time.”