(Benjamin Herman, saxophones; Pierre Christophe, piano; Jas Machtel, doublebass; Joost van Schalk, drums)
I wasn’t familiar with saxist Herman. He began playing the sax at age 12, made a name for himself while a teenager, and is today regarded as one of the most original and productive jazz musicians in the Netherlands. Like many Dutch musicians, he likes to explore beyond the confines of the jazz world, and has worked extensively with avantgarde pianist Misha Mengelberg.
Herman at one point toured Holland and Belgium with French pianist Christophe joining his trio, in a special program devoted to two pianist-composers: Mengelberg and Jaki Byard. Seven of the eight tracks on this SACD are the tricky, be-bopish compositions of Byard, along with one – Never Again – by pianist Christophe in the same style. The closing track – Just Rollin’ Along – changes the studied pace a bit by getting into a Basie-small-group sound which lopes along with a nice and relaxed feel.
Herman has a nice clean and very musical tone, and he’s on the left side of the soundstage with the piano behind him. The bass is in the center and the drums over on the right. This is one of the few jazz piano albums where the piano is not stretched from left to right – thank you, A Records!
TrackList: Tribute to Jimmy Slide, D.D.L.J., Aluminum Baby, Two Five One, Never Again, Out Front, Sagapo, Just Rollin’ Along
– John Henry