One of the unalloyed joys of contemporary Dutch jazz is the way its musicians take such delight in contextualized chaos. To the scene’s finest musicians, improvisation isn’t merely a set of prescribed tactics and patterns for dealing with specific chord changes, but an eagerness to spontaneously make something out of a fleeting set of circumstances. The members of trombonist Chris Abelen’s quintet know their scales, but they can also navigate unfamiliar surroundings. While the music on his second album, What a Romance, isn’t as unwieldy as that produced by his Dutch precursors like Misha Mengelberg and Willem Breuker-with whom Abelen worked in the mid-’80s-it’s not unusual to pick out five different yet simultaneous trains of thought here and there. That’s a good thing.
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