>The Whammies Play The Music Of Steve Lacy,
This is an all star group of musicians: Han Bennink, Jerrit Dijkstra, Pandelis Karayorgis, Jeb Bishop, Mary Oliver, and Jason Roebke. Like the other two volumes, the tracks comprise mostly of Lacy's compositions, allowing for one Monk composition. What is different here is that this is a live session, earlier this year in Padova, Italy. The music is well executed, tight, and jubilant. Bennink has a firm hand on the tiller over the rhythm section as they charge through the album's eight tracks, keeping everything lively and everyone on target.
"Bumpers" is the dynamic opener, revealing the group's large band sound, certainly larger than one would expect from a sextet. It is a bouncy, free form swinging track, having echoes of Monk's early works. "Snorts/Papa's Midnite Hop" is more aggressive, the group swinging their sounds round and round like a hammer throw, though instead of an inevitable release they pull back and switch gears, moving from swing to free bop. Dijkstra and Oliver really shine here, Dijkstra with a bold, alto tone, and Oliver with a precise and exacting violin sound that percolates on top of the others.
If Bennink has the tiller, Robeke has a firm hand on the bottom, his bass navigating through the torrents and shifting winds of the brass and violin. "Letter/Palermo-Orgosolo" is a moodier piece, alto and violin working together as they evoke a contemplative mood over Karayorgis' relaxed piano playing. "Stations" is a love letter to Monk, a vibrant, off key and jagged rhythm piece with Dijkstra fluidly leading the charge, alto more biting and angular than Charlie Rouse, but no less effective. "The Kiss" has Dijkstra utilizing the lyricon, an electronic wind instrument, and in this work it falls almost on the same register as the violin, as the two engage in some very abstract playing. Bishop's muted trombone and Karayorgis' accented piano playing lends to the minimalism of this piece. "Revolutionary Suicide" is solid hard free bop, with Karayorgis's piano being showcased, with a strong solo at the beginning then maintaining with the bass and drums a hard driving pace for Dijkstra and Bishop to play on top of. "Sublimation"(Tribute to Sun Ra) is a blast off into outer space, lyricon charting the stars, violin the ship, and the rest being the interplanetary music. It is the outstanding track on the album.
The album ends with "Hornin In," the lone Monk composition, with Bennink leading with a Blakey like drum solo, followed by Oliver and Karayoris with the theme, emphasis by Dijkstra and Bishop. Running just under an hour, and feeling much quicker than that, The Whammies' Play the Music of Steve Lacy vol 3:Live is a fun, well played romp that not only pays tribute to jazz masters past and but also is a celebration of what jazz can still offer today. Recommended.
The band remains much the same. Jason Roebke replaces Nate McBride on bass here; otherwise there is the familiar excellent lineup of Jorrit Dijkstra on alto and lyricon, Pandelis Karayorgis on piano, Jeb Bishop on trombone, Mary Oliver on violin and viola, and Han Bennink on drums. In many ways the ensemble combines the best of Chicago, Boston and Northern European avant jazzmen, sharing among themselves their love of freely stretching composed material. And so like the two others in the series the Lacy compositions are refit to the ensemble's creative needs, much like Lacy himself did with the music of Thelonious Monk. That they end the set with Monk's "Hornin' In" underscores this sort of round robin unfolding.
The Whammies are one of those Steve Lacy tribute bands currently making the rounds. But they have drummer Han Bennink on board, so they’re at least one notch above the rest for sure. In fact, their line-up is very high-octane: Jorrit Dijkstra on sax (alto sax, not soprano – these guys aren’t purists), Pandelis Karayorgis on piano, Mary Oliver on violin, trombonist Jeb Bishop, and bassist Jason Roebke. This live program features only tunes that weren’t part of the band’s two studio recordings, plus a playful reading of Monk’s “Hornin’ In.” Lacy’s spirit is very much alive here as the band explores the possibilities offered by the great defunct sax player’s compositions, especially on “The Kiss.”
The Whammies speelden op hun voorgaande album al een sterk staaltje avant-garde, maar dit derde deel is daarvan een overtreffende trap. Live opgenomen tijdens een concert in Padova, Italië, voeren ze repertoire van Steve Lacy met finesse uit.
For this third volume, there are significant changes, but they do not impact on that winning formula. Firstly, the personnel remains unchanged except for the replacement of bassist Nate McBride by fellow Chicagoan Jason Roebke, a change that does not dramatically impact on the group sound. So, drummer Han Bennink and alto saxophonist Jorrit Dijkstra remain in place — crucial as they each have links back to work with Lacy himself. Secondly, this album was recorded live in concert, not studio-recorded like its predecessors, and that does have a great impact. Although the first two volumes never lacked energy, this one is a quantum leap up by comparison. Spurred on by enthusiastic Italian and Austrian audiences in March 2014, all members of the group respond in kind and turn in performances bursting with verve and energy.
The selection of music played is as before, all Lacy compositions except for "Hornin' In" by Monk. However, no piece is repeated from before — by no means is this band "playing the albums live". Their versions are a creatively eclectic combination of ensemble playing with freer improvised passages. At times their ensemble play is theatrical enough to be mistaken for the Willem Breuker Kollektief (high praise, in my book) but they never let it flip over into vaudeville. The band contains enough fine soloists — including pianist Pandelis Karayorgis, trombonist Jeb Bishop and violinist Mary Oliver — to ensure an unending stream of stimulating music laced with surprises. The Whammies are so good that if they did not exist someone would have to invent them. Roll on Volumes 4, 5, 6... and plenty more great live gigs, too!
John Eyles, The Squid's Ear, 02/16/2015 link
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