Wolter Wierbos

(DolFijn Records)

From the end of the 70s, trombonist Wolter Wierbos has played and recorded with many different line-ups, including groups led by Ab Baars and Maarten Altena, Alexander von Schlippenbach's Berlin Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, Frank Gratkowski's Quartet, Gerry Hemingway's Quintet, and Misha Mengelberg's Instant Composers Pool Orchestra. An excellent, versatile instrumentalist, also a reluctant leader, Wierbos inaugurated his tiny independent label releasing what, if I'm not mistaken, is his third solo album, the very fine 3 Trombone Solos.

Recorded live in July, 2006 at De Drie Gebroeders (which to me looks like a boat floating on... a liquid of some sort) Deining sees Wierbos playing alongside five musicians whom I assume to be quite known to readers, and obviously to Wierbos: reed player Ab Baars, double bass player Wilbert de Joode, viola player Mary Oliver, Han Bennink on "drums, etc.", and guitar player Franky Douglas. For a moment or two, the photo appearing on the cover fooled me into thinking the CD featured a sextet, but no: the album only features various duets, which - once I overcame my initial sense of surprise - was alright by me.

The three duets with Franky Douglas show the guitarist offering pleasant-sounding themes, a bit less ambitious than maybe is to be expected, given the circumstances, but this is not necessarily a bad thing, since they show a (more thematic) side of Wierbos that's not featured all that often; also because, functioning as they do as a kind of intermission in the middle of more difficult-sounding material, they work perfectly as such.

The largest part (talking about time here) of the album is dedicated to some very fine duos with Wilbert de Joode on double bass, whose language is quite versatile, and whose timbre - quite dry-sounding, not at all "fat" - always reminds me of an oversized cello. They go from a slow "loop" to frantic climates, from swing played pizzicato to starts and stops that are maybe pre-planned (but maybe aren't), to a swing-sounding melody. And it's only in the course of the first of six tracks! Just a few highlights from the following tracks: the pizzicati in the second track; the breathing coupled with the harmonics played arco in the third track; the ultra-low pedal and those cartoon voices in the fourth track; the long, changing dialogue on track five; those mumblings on track six.

The first duo with Douglas has a simple melody, the guitar playing arpeggios, the trombone sounding almost like a cornet.

The three duets with Ab Baars feature Baars on tenor, clarinet (strangely uncredited), and no-kan. The first is a thematic track, the second a composition by Mengelberg that sounds fresh and (not surprisingly) very Monk-like, with the trombone in nice counterpoint work, while the third track sounds like a kind of march, the very high, thin-sounding no-kan coupled to a very low-sounding trombone.

The following duo with Douglas has a start sounding almost like it's quoting from Take Five, with samba accents.

As expected, the duo with Han Bennink is frantic, there's the ride cymbal, the trombone, playing tempo, there's a mouth harp. Then we have a meditative trombone solo, a drum solo with fast brushes on the snare drum, then a trombone and viola dialogue which very logically transports the listener to a reprise of Mengelberg's theme, its melody being performed first by the viola, then by Bennink's sopranino.

The third duo with Douglas has a bossa flavour.

The last track of the CD is another duo with de Joode: the double bass plays a cadenza/"pulse" often acting almost like drums, the trombone works around a theme in a jazz-like vein, and it's a fine track that ends silently, with no audience applause.

Beppe Colli

Beppe Colli 2009

CloudsandClocks.net | Oct. 10, 2009