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Friday, September 12, 2008

Robin Verheyen - Painting Space (De Werf, 2008) ***½

The young Belgian (but New York-based) saxophonist Robin Verheyen brings his sophomore CD with "Painting Space", accompanied by Bill Carrothers on piano, Remi Vignolo on bass and Dré Pallemaerts on drums. The central idea of the album seems to be how empty space can be filled with sound, and - as importantly - not be filled. Verheyen is a master of tone and shades of sound on his sax, subtle and nuanced, and the other musicians follow suit, with Carrothers playing lyrically and often plucking his piano-strings to great effect, Pallemaerts great as usual and Vignolo a discovery as a warm and lyrical bassist. And that's the major success of the record : the tight and cohesive sound that the band creates, and not surprisingly, more than half the tracks are penned by the four band members together. Some pieces are ethereal, meditative at times, as "Painting Space" and even more so "Wherever The Path Leads You" or "Colors In Space", others are more abstract and intense, yet always controlled and within the range of what you could call "accessible". Carrother's "Voice Of The People" is the most beautiful composition, built around a single tonal center played by the bass, over which Verheyen's soprano soars freely and calmly. The best and most impactful tracks are the ones in which a more daring attitude is shown, as on "Facing East", "Open To Love" and "Metal Bar". There is one element, though, which unfortunately disrupts the album's overall sense of unity, and that is their take on Wayne Shorter's "Capricorn", which is stylistically too different to fit here. Verheyen has tremendous skills and a wonderful approach to music. I hope he would move even more into more daring regions so that he can unleash more of his highly promising potential.

© stef