Achim Kaufmann/Michael Moore/ Dylan van der Schyff

Red Toucan RT 9329

Flexible and inventive in his playing, Vancouver percussionist Dylan van der Schyff uses his rhythmic muscle to keeps this session properly focused.

Recorded in two Canadian and two American cities during a 2005 tour by this European-North American trio – plus guest Dutch trombonist Wolter Wierbos on two tracks – the drummer’s skill is such that he reins in German pianist Achim Kaufman and American reedist Michael Moore when they seem to become a bit too romantically cloying in their contributions.

Both based in Amsterdam, and veterans of bands like the ICP Orchestra (Moore) and the Astronotes (Kaufmann), these versatile players are as familiar with notated as improvised music. But on pieces like “Roadside” and “Kopfspinnennetz” if not for the drummer’s clinking cymbals and woodblock smacks respectively, the organic keyboard patterning and trilling reed lyricism would push the renditions into mere prettiness. Imagine a combination of Mozart and the Benny Goodman trio.

Luckily, the pianist, who composed most of the tracks here, uses tremolo voicing and resounding string slides to toughen his renditions other places. His spiky runs, key clipping and hesitant chording plus Moore’s intense, rappelling alto saxophone trills make “Corybant” sound like a forgotten Monk tune.

Wierbos’ distinctive triple-tongued runs and elongated slurs back up van der Schyff’s blunt flams and marital rolls when he appears. Additionally, the trombonist’s shapely plunger movements encourage the pianist to batter harpsichord-like on the keys and the alto saxophonist to wiggle out his most atonal split tones.

— Ken Waxman

— CODA Issue 330