(Harmen Fraanje, piano; Nelson Veras, guitar; Hein Van de Geyn, bass; Matthieu Chazarenc, drums)
There’s no information about Harmen and his group in the note booklet, which is blank on the inside. So with some Googling: He’s a Dutch pianist on the international jazz scene, but as with so many Dutch musicians he is open to every sort of music – in his case this includes classical, improvisation, Pygmy music, Duke Ellington – you name it. In 2006 he received the Bird Award from the North Sea Jazz Festival. He is half of a classical piano duo and also performs as a trio with an avant-garde cellist and a Senegalese singer/percussionist. Guitarist Veras was born in Brazil and freelances in the Paris area. He has performed with Pat Metheny and Bereli Legrene among others.
This is quite a different-sounding quartet from the typical one featuring guitar and piano. There is more of a European classical music influence – especially in the lovely title tune and in the mostly guitar-solo Intermezzo. The tune of Paris Song has stayed with me for a day now. All of the dozen compositions are originals of Harmen’s. Some sound like part of a score for a thoughtful European movie. Then there are the surprise jumps into uptempo post-bop swing, as in Mokka and Bungee. Sonics are very clean and well-spaced-out, as with all Challenge SACDs. This is a jazz experience that doesn’t shout, it just is.
TrackList: Sonatala, Hans, Nanne, Mokka, Mulle, Sixtension, Acela, Spirit, Paris Song, Bungee, Intermezzo, Winter.
– John Henry