Friday, April 2, 2010

Jorrit Dijkstra with Some Brilliant Ensemble Music

There's a new spirit in the ensemble avant jazz being created lately in some circles. At least I think so. Jorrit Dijkstra is a part of it, at least in his recent Pillow Circles (Clean Feed). Jorrit has assembled a mid-sized, eight-member group, including two reeds (Jorrit and Tony Malaby), trombone (Jeb Bishop), viola, two guitars, one doubling on banjo, acoustic bass and drums (Frank Rosaly).

This is through-composed, through-freed in form. Ensemble composition, free collective soloing and individual moments alternate and are thoroughly integrated. Rhythmic freedom and rhythmic groove alternate, sometimes within a single movement. Multi-instrumental counterpoint often prevails in written and improvised parts, rather than homeophonic blocks that relate to basic song form.

This of course is not entirely unprecedented, but there seems to be a more of it than there used to be and when it's very good, like on Pillow Circles, there is a consistency and unity of purpose that in part comes out of having hammered out a musical syntax that now seems fully mature.

Jorrit Djikstra's compositional, directional ensemble leadership takes the front stage on this set. He has created an excellent vehicle for a talented and inspired group of musicians and the results are striking. Many stylistic elements combine in ways that do not seem patched together. Jorrit integrates the free, the electric, the advanced melodic approach and the textural colorfield perspective in a seamless whole. This is extraordinarily interesting music, played by some extraordinarily open and articulate musicians.