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12/07/11

Tineke Postma
The Dawn of Light
Challenge Records

Dutch alto and soprano saxophonist Tineke Postma’s playing is supple and nuanced, to the point where her tone can suggest Lee Konitz. Sometimes she flits airily from note to note and sometimes she fidgets with phrases and releases flurries of notes or tonal wisps. The music on this album, her fifth, is rarely straight-ahead and swinging, although there are episodes of strong rhythm. Postma’s band (the term “rhythm section” seems limiting), which includes Dutch musicians Marc Van Roon (acoustic and electric piano and synthesizer), Frans Van Der Hoeven (bass) and Martijn Vink (drums), has a fluid sense of ebb and flow and interplay.

The quartet conveys wistfulness convincingly, as on Postma’s “Before the Snow” and Van Roon’s “Newland.” Guest Esperanza Spalding (in her only appearance here) sings Postma and lyricist Pablo Neruda’s “Leave Me a Place Underground,” with the beat assertive and the drums busy. Thelonious Monk’s “Off Minor” opens with alto saxophone and piano in a fluid, free dialogue before the melody finally emerges; the performance yields more to Postma and Van Roon’s concept than it evokes the composer’s percussive piano style. Monk is the only American composer represented here, with Postma penning the majority of the tunes.

The lyricism expressed throughout this album is engaging, and Postma’s saxophone technique dazzles. But sometimes you wish the group would cook more.

Originally published in November 2011
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