April 1997

Michiel Borstlap
The Sextet Live!
Challenge Records

Pianist/composer Michiel Borstlap arguably made his most impressive mark on America by winning the BMI Composers award at this past year's 10th Anniversary Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Competition. Not only was his winning composition, "Memory of Enchantment" superbly performed by Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock, it proved to be one of the highlights of the evening. This explosive two-disc offering provides further evidence of Borstlap's brilliant penchant for infectious, durable compositions and his inventive interpretative skills.

Recorded live at Amsterdam's Bim-Huis, this 1995 performance features Borstlap and an equally impressive sextet boasting two thermal sets of mostly Borstlap originals and one of the most urgent and inventive readings of piano classic, "Monk's Mood." Technically Borstlap piano musing bears an unmistakable resemblance to Herbie Hancock's percussive drive and fleeting elegance, but it's his inventive compositions that are his trump cards. From the elusive opening, "Gijs" that slowly builds into a terse free fall thanks to the formidable horn section of trumpeter Eric Vloeimans and saxophonists Benjamin Herman and Yuri Honing to the exuberant, "B.A.M," that features drummer Joost Lijbaart and bassist Anton Drukker pushes Borstlap and the horn section with muscular thrust. All the musicians are giving ample room to explore Borstlap open-ended compositions which display a magnificent array of moods, tempos, and textures. This superbly executed set delivers the goods with hard-hitting immediacy, emotional honesty, and great respect for the tradition of modern bebop. Highly recommended.

Originally published in April 1997
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