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Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Black Napkins (Rat Records, 2009) ****

When I said some days ago that there aren't many women trumpet-players, I missed one who is basically living and playing in my backyard. Sanne van Hek is a Dutch trumpet-player, who started on clarinet and saxophone before switching to bass and bass guitar when she turned sixteen, an instrument on which she expanded her skills at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. She switched to trumpet at nineteen and studied amongst others at the Manhattan School Of Music. The trumpet is now her main instrument.

Named after a Frank Zappa song, The Black Napkins' music doesn't sound like Zappa at all, except maybe for the high quality instrumental skills and their sense of adventure. On this trio, the trumpeter is joined by Jasper Stadhouders on guitar and Gerri Jaeger on drums. The music is quite adventurous indeed and quite special. Each short track has its own left of center approach, setting a mood, a theme, a weird improvisation, sometimes rhythmic, sometimes it's all about the sound, which fluctuates between the traditional and the industrial, between jazz and rock and pure improv, between form and chaos, all quite full of character while remaining enjoyable. There are two long pieces on the album, "9.5" almost nine minutes long, which shows that the band is also capable of really building up a composition, expanding on the main concept and creating an interesting atmosphere : a cold and thorny melancholy. On the last eleven minute track, the band is joined by Jozef Dumoulin on keyboards, who moves the music into a more electronic environment and ambient sounds as the background for some great introspective soloing. Again, despite the sudden shift in approach, it fits well with the rest of the music, which is stubborn, single-minded and rich.

Listen to samples on MySpace and buy from Instantjazz.

Here in possibly the darkest Youtube clip imaginable:

© stef


de willem said...

Hi Stef,

Great that you have embedded my 'possibly the darkest Youtube clip imaginable' in your article. I met Gerri Jaeger tonight at Studio Loos where he played withe the POW Ensmble. He told me he liked the clip very much. There's some footage of this concert on its way to YouTube. This time you can actually see the players! ;-)
I'll post a link when it's published.