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>The Whammies Play The Music Of Steve Lacy,
>Live (Vol. 3)
>The Whammies



The Whammies Play The Music Of Steve Lacy, Live (Vol. 3)

The Whammies
Driff Records 1401, 201

Jorrit Dijkstra, alto sax, lyricon, analog electronics
Pandelis Karayorgis, piano 
Jeb Bishop, trombone
Mary Oliver, violin, viola
Jason Roebke, bass
Han Bennink, drums 

available on Bandcamp

The Whammies page


Bumpers 6:53
Snorts 5:54                   
Papa’s Midnite Hop 5:52
Letter 6:12  
Palermo-Orgosolo 4:48
Stations 4:23 
The Kiss 8:24
Revolutionary Suicide 5:16   
Sublimation 6:03

Hornin’ In 6:01

All compositions by Steve Lacy, except "Hornin' In" by Thelonious Monk.

Total time 59:45





**** The Whammies are a specialized jazz improvisational group. As the title of their albums obviously indicate, they are a group dedicated to the music and spirit of Steve Lacy, though they are not slavish to the compositions. In a way, they do for Lacy what Lacy himself did for Thelonious Monk: taking their love of jazz, of its wide ranging abilities and possibilities, integrating it into their own sensibilities, and presenting it to a new generation of listeners.

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.
Stefan Wood, The Free Jazz Collective, Sep 24, 2014

(****) De omgekeerde wereld. Sopraansaxofonist Steve Lacy kwam lang geleden naar Europa om daar zijn vrije muziek te kunnen spelen, en onze landgenoot Jorrit Dijkstra deed precies het tegenovergestelde: hij kwam in de V.S. terecht en ging daar aan de gang met de muziek van Lacy. Grappig is dat op dit album ook Han Bennink meedoet, die in 1987 deel uitmaakte van een kwintet met Misha Mengelberg waar Lacy grote problemen mee had; ‘Misha has a hell of an ear, but he’s so fucking ornery you can’t get him to do what you want to do.’ Tien jaar geleden overleed Lacy, en nu buigen The Whammies zich voor de derde keer over zijn muziek. De kern van de groep bestaat uit altsaxofonist Jorrit Dijkstra en pianist Pandelis Karayorgis; daarnaast horen we trombonist Jeb Bishop, violiste Mary Oliver en bassist Jason Roebke. En natuurlijk Han Bennink, die meteen ook de hoes ontwierp. De groep zet zich in acht stukken aan de erfenis van Steve Lacy, een project dat recht doet aan zijn grillige opvattingen maar ook strikt eigen opvattingen laat horen.
Coen de Jonge, Jazzism

The Whammies continue to regale our senses with innovative and exciting reinterpretations of Steve Lacy compositions. What seemed on the first release to be a one-off project in fact continues quite productively, so that we now have a third volume in the series, The Whammies Play the Music of Steve Lacy Vol. 3 Live (Driff 1401). Type "Whammies" in the search box above for my reviews of the first two volumes.

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.
Nine Lacy tunes are given the Whammies treatment. With Lacy's compositional wealth there are plenty to cover and these are excellent vehicles once more. Taking Lacy's soprano out of the equation and handing the music over to these very sympathetic and rather brilliant instrumentalists give us a new sense of the extraordinary angularity of the Lacy approach.

The hour-long program has some beautiful spaces for improvisations by band members. Everyone most definitely hits their spots and the collectively loose openness also hits home wonderfully well.

Volume Three is in no way a let-down. It is every bit as good, perhaps even better than the first two. The band gels as a unit as much as ever. The experience of playing together over time unsurprisingly gives the ensemble in essence an even more homogenized blend without sacrificing the very out-front individuality of every member.

Another winner! Very much recommended.
Grego Applegate Edwards, Gapplegate Music Review, Nov 12, 2014

Les Whammies sont un des nombreux groupes hommages à Steve Lacy actuellement en activité. Mais ils ont le batteur Han Bennink avec eux, alors... ils sont une coche au-dessus de la mêlée. En fait, ils ont un alignement irréprochable: Jorrit Dijkstra au saxo (alto, pas soprano, ce ne sont pas des puristes), Pandelis Karayorgis on piano, Mary Oliver au violon, le tromboniste Jeb Bishop et le contrebassiste Jason Roebke. Ce programme en concert consiste uniquement en additions au répertoire du groupe, avec en finale une lecture enjouée de “Hornin’ In” de Monk. L’esprit de Lacy est bien vivant, le groupe explorant les possibilités ouvertes par les compos du grand saxophoniste – sur “The Kiss” tout particulièrement.

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.”
François Couture, Monsieur Délire Sep 26 2014

**** Snocciolando un mazzetto di temi (ciascuno con la sua brava dedica) certo non fra i più trafficati del repertorio di Steve Lacy, alla cui musica si vanno dedicando da alcuni anni con ammirevole applicazione e felicità ispirativa, The Whammies confezionano un’altra piccola (o grande?) gemma, stavolta con la particolarità della dimensione live (nello specifico nel marzo 2014 in quel di Padova), che genera una virgola di libertà in più.
Lo spirito lacyano (a differenza per esempio degli Ideal Bread, di cui ci siamo occupati di recente) è del resto sempre salvaguardato grazie a un movimento interno costante, irrinunciabile, una timbrica allusiva e spesso obliqua, nitida e ironica, un rispetto totale della bellezza germinale dei temi…
Alberto Bazzurro , allaboutjazz.com, Dec 10 2014

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.

De internationale groep, met aan het voortouw de Nederlanders Jorrit Dijkstra en Han Bennink, gaat op dezelfde voet verder als met de vorige twee albums: hun interpretatie van het werk van de in 2004 overleden sopraansaxofonist Steve Lacy. 

Naast bekendere composities van Lacy zoals ‘Revolutionary Suicide’ en ‘Papa's Midnite Hop’, speelden The Whammies tijdens hun tour ook werken die Lacy nog nooit had opgenomen en zelfs eentje dat Lacy nooit had afgemaakt. Een mogelijk risico dat goed heeft uitgepakt. Want ook de onbekende stukken klinken als Lacy: melodieus, minimalistisch en emotioneel geladen. Vaak zijn het thema's met korte, stevige statements die veel worden herhaald. De stukken zijn doorspekt met invloeden van Thelonious Monk, wat niet gek is, aangezien Monk rolmodel stond voor het latere werk van Lacy. ‘Papa's Midnite Hop’ bijvoorbeeld heeft wel wat weg van ‘Well You Needn't’.

Er is vooruitgang geboekt door de groep, die vooral merkbaar is in de collectieve improvisaties. Zo wordt er – in tegenstelling tot het vorige album – zuiniger omgesprongen met tegenmelodieën, waardoor er minder ruis is en de luisteraar de aandacht makkelijker kan richten en vasthouden. Er zit ook wat meer structuur in de uitvoeringen, met duidelijke overgangen en bijvoorbeeld Dijkstra die helder improviseert met wat meer bebop-idioom dan voorheen.

Daarnaast vormen de muzikanten regelmatig spontane duo's: bijvoorbeeld trombone en contrabas die ineens besluiten om samen te gaan improviseren. Deze spontaniteit geeft de stukken meer diepgang en zorgt voor aangename verrassingen en afwisseling. De live-opname brengt nog een extra dimensie. Het is op een aantal plekken hoorbaar dat enkele bandleden onaangekondigd een bruggetje bouwen om zo een nieuw stuk in te zetten. Gelukkig is hier niet in geknipt voor de cd-productie.

Een van de hoogtepunten is het stuk ‘The Kiss’, waarbij het musiceren in duo's helemaal tot zijn recht komt. Dit begint met een voorzichtig aftastende dialoog tussen viool en lyricon, een analoge windsynthesizer uit de jaren zeventig. Hoge fluittonen vliegen zachtjes om de oren en zorgen voor een mysterieuze sfeer. Alles eindigt in een gezamenlijke improvisatie en sluit af met een unisono thema van wederom viool en lyricon. The Whammies vervagen op deze manier de grenzen tussen spontane en gearrangeerde compositie.

Ze zijn gegroeid en nog meer naar elkaar toe gaan spelen. Dat is over de gehele cd merkbaar. Nu is het hopen dat ze samen nog een lange tijd doorgaan, want The Whammies zijn fantastische vertolkers van het werk van Steve Lacy.
Armand van Wijck, Jazzenzo, 28 October 2014

It is wonderful news that The Whammies have added a third volume to their series paying homage to the great Steve Lacy. The first volume deservedly garnered praise from all quarters and established a model which seemingly makes it easy to roll out further editions. The ingredients of that model are straightforward enough — a core group of international musicians who operate as a tight unit and are attuned to each other's instincts, a shared knowledge and love of Lacy's music and that of his inspiration Thelonious Monk, an exploratory attitude to that music rather than an attempt at faithful reproduction of the originals, and energy levels commensurate with the group name.

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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