Albatre, Cactus Truck + Dead Neanderthals – The New Wave of Dutch Heavy Jazz (2015)

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The New Wave of Dutch Heavy Jazz is a collaboration between Dutch jazz heavies Albatre, Cactus Truck, Donne Et Desiree and Dead Neanderthals.

The first track on The New Wave of Dutch Heavy Jazz, by Albatre, who are made up of Rotterdam based Hugo Costa on saxes, Gonzo Almeida on bass and Philipp Ernsting (Doktor Schnitt, dZoNk, Acid Folk Five, Nanko, Nachgewürzt, Ventriloqiusm) on drums is titled “The Cabinet of Dr. Sakumara” and starts, appropriately, with what sounds like a suitcase being unzipped — or perhaps a cabinet door swinging open. The choice of whether park your case and stay or go through the door of the wardrobe into jazz Narnia is up to the listener, but if you choose to say, this ain’t no picnic.

For more than 11 minutes, the screaming sax of Costa, drums of Ernsting and the bass of Almeida come at you like a train. Unrelenting, loud and continually arrythmic apart from a deliciously rhythmic drum section half way through, this track is immense, full on and so, so uplifting. There are moments when the noise lets up and Costa’s sax soars into almost ethereal realms, tweeting upwards into the sonic heights but soon drum and bass realize what is happening and cast their heavy nets, catching notes and bringing them back down, before ripping headlong into the final, blistering dash.

Cactus Truck then have two tunes on The New Wave of Dutch Heavy Jazz. The first, “Destrudinal Economy” starts as a vehicle which carries the soloing sax of John Dikeman (the Royal Improvisers Orchestra, William Parker). The sax leads the guitar of Jasper Stadhouders (Spinifex and Lily’s Déjà vu) and drums of Onno Govaert (he has played with William Parker and Joe McPhee) into an ever-increasing complexity of rhythms and experiments but there remains a coherency between the musicians which makes the structure of the piece.

The drumming of Govaert is, in a word, stunning and the lead is deftly stolen from the sax until by the end of the track, everyone is following the drummer, like he is some bonkers and musically mis-placed Hamlyn piper. “Cock Destruct” is a shorter, balanced piece with all musicians passing the themes back and forth in turn, coming in and out, loud and soft. The middle section is wonderfully full of small gaps which somehow act like a silent but highly effective fourth band member.

Donne Et Desiree comprise Steven Vinkenoog on guitars and vocals and Donne Brok on drums. Their song on The New Wave of Dutch Heavy Jazz, “a Whopper, to Speak,” begins with long, sonorous notes interspersed with cymbals and percussive noise. It then builds and builds until a wall of noise, suffused only with the occasional tinkle of some distant timpanic bell. The track ends with a child’s voice with a version of “Over The Rainbow” which is mis-timed, out-of-tune but very sweet.

Dead Neanderthals is made up of Otto Kokke on saxes and Rene Aquarius on drums, and their track “Boiled Hands” is the final track on The New Wave of Dutch Heavy Jazz. It is wonderful in its disparity, anarchic, brutal ferocity. Kokke attacks every riff as if it were the only riff he ever played, and Aquarius finds every gap in the rhythm to fill with fast, furious, manic drumming. Musically, there are themes running through, a definitive rhythm and sense to the music. The two players speak to each other and the listener; they challenge, duel, follow and lead in turn, demonstrating what true musical cooperation and understanding can be.

At times, Kokke is so intense, you worry for his safety — let alone sanity. Can he possibly have any more breath? His changes and intonation are exquisite. Aquarius supports superbly at times and drives the rhythms onwards at others, never relenting or stopping for the minutest pause. A brilliant way to finish the album – it leaves the listener feeling absolutely exhausted.

If this album is The New Wave of Dutch Heavy Jazz, then let the waves roll over us.

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