For a classical ensemble, improvisation is by no means an everyday pursuit. Yet during its 28-year history, Calefax Reed Quintet has repeatedly yielded to the temptation of extemporaneous performance. This often took place in the context of a pre-existing form, style or musical convention, and usually to a modest degree, for instance as part of a larger composition.
Calefax, rooted in the eight centuries of music history from which it draws its concert repertoire, is well aware that music, as a rule, is the end result of improvisation and is often notated solely as a favor to the music-reading player. The desire inherent in the group’s past and present goal – to dissect and then reconstruct existing music – has resulted in the countless arrangements the group has performed the world over for nearly three decades.
Each of the members is thus not only a performing but a creative artist as well, qualities that also define an improviser. Calefax underscores the importance of continuously exploring the link between these two styles of music-making. This has led to the music on this album – On the Spot.
A survey of music history shows that composers from distinctly disparate periods and locales had surprisingly similar goals in mind. Arranging music for an essentially fixed instrumentation has more than once brought musical parallels to the fore that otherwise might have gone unnoticed. In doing so, the quintet has created a practice for the playing, playful musician with befriended composers from all places and all times.
Perhaps this is most applicable to the trumpeter Eric Vloeimans. While he is otherwise difficult to categorize, Vloeimans, with his well-nigh vocal playing style, is undoubtedly the ideal person to guide five classical musicians in the world of improvisation. Along the way he also showed a hunger for the wealth of classical music, willingly allowing members of the quintet in turn to lead him, without sacrificing any of his own uniqueness.
Kinan Azmeh and Albert van Veenendaal both composed works especially for the marriage of these two types of musicians. Additionally, Ivar Berix and Raaf Hekkema were given free rein to delve into the extensive oeuvre of Eric Vloeimans.
Calefax Reed Quintet
Eric Vloeimans – Trumpet
Total time: 01:00:08
Siltech Mono Crystal
Bert van der Wolf
|Original Recording Format|
Calefax & Bert van der Wolf
Bert van der Wolf
|Recording Type & Bit Rate||
|Release Date||June 28, 2014|
Classical ensemble Calefax Reed Quintet yields once again to the temptation for extemporaneous performance in this collaboration with improvising trumpeter and composer Eric Vloeimans—to extraordinarily satisfying results.
The combined sensibilities of these five musicians from Calefax and Eric Vloeimans work to create quite an intriguing synthesis of the modern, the early, the traditional, the experimental. It all just works. And the sonorities of the modern reed instruments and brass, together with the very intentional introduction of traditional instument (such as the duduk, an ancient Armenian double reed woodwind instrument made of apricot wood, and the tenora, a descendent of the shawm which was played across Europe from the Middle Ages up to the 17th century), weave a complex tapestry of sounds and textures.
I find myself fascinated by the way the group takes music of the renaissance, baroque, twentieth century jazz, modern compositions, and free extemporizing to build a compelling musical landscape that is thoroughly enjoyable today. For example, beginning on track 4, they play through the Toccata Settime of early 17th century composer Michelangelo Rossi (a daring composer in his day) with some improvisation freely allowed within Rossi’s framework, transition via little less than two minute improvisation by Eric Vloeimans, and then flow into the iconic Miles Davis classic Blue in Green, molded into sextet form by Calefax member Oliver Boekhoorn. A beautiful arc of completely unrelated musical works, made into a whole here.
All in all, this album has been a lovely journey, an intriguing exploration, and a musical hour well spent. Hmmm, no. That’s three musical hours well-spent as I’ve come back to listen over and over again. Highly recommended.
In their recent DSD release On the Spot, the Calefax Reed Quintet join forces with jazz trumpeter Eric Vloeimans for a set of commissioned new compositions, adaptations of Vloeimans’ pieces, arrangements of polyphonic works by Baroque-era composers, and a bona-fide jazz masterpiece. This juxtaposition of diverse musical styles shines a light on intersections between the past and present.
On the Spot contrasts Vloeimans’ jazzy and playful compositions with the more knotty, modernist work of Albert Van Veenendaal. A pianist-composer with one foot in avant-garde Jazz and the other in new Classical music, van Veenandaal has multiple personae; Jazz pianist, collaborator in theater pieces, visual arts and sound installations; musical educator; and resource for creative music ensembles such as Calefax.
The strategy of programming the avant-garde work of Albert van Veenendaal alongside Eric Vloeimans’ more accessible and familiar compositions, with Baroque pieces interspersed, indicates that Calefax and Challenge A&R man Marcel van den Broek are in tune with the realities of distributing creative music to a streaming and download-driven market. Tidal subscribers and radio listeners who might balk at the complexity of “Mal de Terre” would certainly enjoy the Vloeimans and Baroque tunes, and one hopes, purchase the full disc on that basis.
As they approach the 30 year-mark as an ensemble, Calefax raise their instruments in celebration of the expressive sound of the reed.
Draai om je oren (Turn Your Ears)
His solo is tasteful, pure and enchanting.
All in all a surprising album with a Jazzy and slightly Classical sound.
The musical collaboration here gives shape to an unusual synergy between jazz and traditional themes. Fascinating to listen to, especially in Multichannel DSD.
The singing trumpet of Eric Vloeimans, as always self-evident, fits in perfectly with the close harmony and virtuosity of Calefax. An album that tells in every note what making music is really about.
With the album On The Spot, versatility is an asset in which the Calefax Quintet and Eric Vloeimans challenge and reinforce each other musically.
The best of both worlds come together in eleven pieces. ‘On The Spot‘ is a beautiful fusion of Classical sounds and stylish Jazz improvisations.
The versatility of Calefax’s repertoire, plus of course the line-up offer countless possibilities. The album is given an enormously enriching impulse with the presence of trumpeter Eric Vloeimans.
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