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September 2000

Bert Van Den Brink/Rick Margitza
Conversations
Challenge Records

Rick Margitza, one of the era's major voices on tenor saxophone, is heard to advantage in this incisive quartet outing with pianist Bert Van Den Brink, bassist Hen Van de Geyn and drummer Hans van Oosterhout. Having successfully amalgamated the intensity of John Coltrane with the rhythmic panache of Sonny Rollins, Margitza declaims with an authority at once robust and ethereal. Van Den Brink, whose associations include Dee Dee Bridgewater and Toots Thielemans, also possesses a compelling approach. His touch is precise yet swinging. He's also a simpatico accompanist whose understated comping is a perfect match for Margitza's thoughtful tenoring. As evidenced in his wistful lines on Michel Legrand's "His Eyes, Her Eyes," Van Den Brink the soloist often strolls with a jaunty gait. It's a perfect complement to the tenorist's no-nonsense demeanor. In straightahead rambles like the run-down of "All the Things You Are," Margitza floats his distinctive lines atop crisply accented currents. Nothing's forced, everything flows. The reframing of "Naima," in a Jamalesque take reminiscent of "Poinciana," is among the many pleasing surprises. So, too, the blistering burn through "Secret Love." There are breathtaking moments of transcendent beauty, as on the haunting rendition of "A Child Is Born." Other standards benefiting from the Margitza-Van Den Brink treatment are "Emily," "The Look of Love" and "You Must Believe in Spring."

Originally published in September 2000
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