Herbert De Jonge Quartet
Real People


An album that I happened to find inside my mailbox, in the end Real People revealed itself as a very nice surprise; it was only after repeated listening sessions, though, after I proceeded to reset a few erroneous expectations that, as it sometimes happens, I had unconsciously developed, that I really came to appreciate it.

And this is the reason why (the short version, anyway): looking at the list of the featured players, alongside names that to me were totally unknown, such as those of Charles Huffstadt (drums), Esmee Olthuis (alto and soprano saxophones), and Herbert De Jonge (piano and composition), I saw the only name I was familiar with: double bass player Arjen Gorter, whom I had known for quite a long time especially for his being a long-standing member of Willem Breuker's Kollektief. And then I thought about a keyboard player in Breuker's line-ups, Henk De Jonge.

In a nutshell, the music that's featured on this CD is easily definable as being "classic jazz", if not quite "almost mainstream". But here we have to keep in mind that it's the "classic jazz" definition that takes into account the passing of time: nowadays a theme doesn't necessarily have to appear at the start of a track; solos are not forced to follow a chord map; and, if so desired, instruments can easily switch roles.

This is not, let's make this immediately clear, "abrasive music"; and were I to offer some useful coordinates to the listener - al least, one always hopes they are useful - I'd mention Paul Bley, not Cecil Taylor (not even end-of-the-Fifties Taylor). To back my impression, at least when it comes to Real People's first four tracks, I'd show those thoughtful silences on the piano, Gorter's "fat" timbre on his instrument, and a very "light" drum-set, where cymbals are often used in a melodic way, and as colour; it's only logical that listeners' thoughts will go to the Gary Peacock-Paul Motian rhythm section. After (what I perceive to be) a kind of closure of track #5, the album appears to change its direction, with an effect that's not bad at all, and the coming to the fore of a few surprising elements.

Before saying something about the individual tracks, I'll anticipate my conclusions: Those who only like "abrasive" will regard the general framework of this album as being a bit too "old-fashioned", I'm afraid. I think that Real People's best listeners will be those who cultivate careful listening as a way to reveal a discreet kind of quality. It's not a "masterpiece", but this album deserves more than the sad destiny from the lack of promotion that an indie label like this can afford.

Balacarde is a nice start for the album, with its melodic theme and a thoughtful alto sax; then we have piano, double bass, cymbals; a nice piano solo, then an alto sax solo (all over the album Esmee Olthuis often plays the alto as a light and airy lower version of the soprano). Theme, end.

Wit En Blauw starts with a very Bley-like piano, in trio, in a medium tempo, and a nice unison of double bass and De Jonge's left hand, working as a counterpoint to his right hand ostinato (and yes, I really would have liked this unison to be more clearly recorded); an airy theme for soprano sax, the kind that sticks in one's mind.

Mirjam offers a light performance from the soprano, a Bley-like atmosphere, cymbals la Motian, and a very nice snare drum with a resonant snare.

Happy moves a lot more, with a two-handed, "classic" piano performance, a "semi-free" quartet, and the alto sax to the fore. Strong "swing-blues" move from the double bass. An extroverted track.

Voor Wie Dit Geldt is quite still, with piano and a "whispering" alto. Not the album's best moment, in my opinion, but a track that appears to divide the album in "two parts".

Madre DD starts with solo soprano sax, it then blooms in a slow theme. Strange as it may seem, to me the soprano sounded almost like a transposition of Elton Dean's saxello.

A "muscular" drum set, the soprano sax, an "orthodox" piano solo are featured on Witch Way. Here, too, I seemed to detect Elton Dean's presence, but it's the track as a whole that to me sounds like an "acoustic transposition" of some atmospheres appearing on Soft Machine's Fifth.

Vogeloog it's a ballad that sometimes seemed to quote from Ornette's Lonely Woman. Nice piano and alto sax solos.

A "classic" development for Blue Moment, with a nice alto sax-piano unison, a "walking" double bass, and nice piano and alto sax solos.

Gods Noorwegen is the fine album closer: "ballad-style" piano intro, trio, excellent double bass solo, nice soprano sax solo, then the piano brings the piece to its close.

Beppe Colli

Beppe Colli 2008

CloudsandClocks.net | Mar. 25, 2008