When a jazz band is able to strike a balance with music that is brooding and personal yet outward and approachable, listeners who otherwise wouldn’t agree on much are in for a shared treat. This second album from Dutch pianist Wolfert Brederode’s international band isn’t the cheeriest set you’ll ever encounter, but within its quietude are flashes of sly humor. It feels like postbop experienced in a dream world.
Opener “Meander” is akin to setting off on a path, with Claudio Puntin’s clarinet suffusing a rustic, folky feel. We may well be wandering, but this is a journey that has commenced just prior to dusk, when the air starts to smell of smoke and breath becomes visible. And so “November” exudes a distinct chill, as Mats Eilersten’s bowed bass and Brederode’s plaintive chords duet against the minimalist background of Samuel Rohrer’s drums. One gets the sense that the leaves that were on the trees at the beginning of our walk have since fallen to the ground.
But those who are of a brighter disposition need not worry. “Inner Dance” is good for warming the bones, as Rohrer’s cymbal accents provide energizing bursts of color and Brederode and Puntin pick up the tempo. Before you know it the band has worked itself into a fizzing groove, one which departs as quickly as it came on, and we’re off to the next destination. You might think of it all as a jazz variation on Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, with this particular gallery being housed in the mind.