Half Notes: Benjamin Herman – Hypochristmastreefuzz Special Edition (2008)

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by S. Victor Aaron

The nattily-dressed alto-sax player from the Netherlands, Benjamin Herman, released Hypochristmastreefuzz in 2008, following up on his 2001 live album with the great Dutch avant garde composer Misha Mingelberg with a studio album of Mingelberg tunes. These sessions are released again in 2010, but supplemented with a second disc, a live set from the North Sea Jazz Festival in 2009, also consisting of (mostly) Mengelberg songs. Thus, the “Special Edition” part of this reissue. Herman’s alto sax is so husky at times, I sometimes forget he’s playing alto and not tenor. That plus a romantic accent makes him sound a little like a young Stan Getz. Mengelberg’s songs, or at least as interpreted by Herman, is no-bs hard bop in a Jackie McLean way, but there’s a couple of change-up’s like the rock ‘n’ roll of “Brozziman” and the syrupy “strings” with vocal (by Ruben Hein) of “De Sprong O Romantiek Der Hazen.” The live disc plays some of the same tunes, but with a bit more oomph. As a companion disc, it works well. The Amazon link below is the original, one-disc version, as I can’t find where one can order the Special Edition in the States. If you come across it and it’s priced below 18 or 20 dollars, it’d be worth picking up over the single-disc-er.

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