January 1, 2015
The Bureau of Atomic Tourism (B.O.A.T.)
Spinning out improvisations based on compositions from the members of his Bureau of Atomic Tourism (B.O.A.T.) sextet, drummer Teun Verbruggen has come up with a rugged exemplar of Transatlantic Jazz. Featuring soloists as attuned to gnashing Metal as outlier Free Jazz, B.O.A.T. relentlessly sails through six tracks, with the players incorporating fluid sweeps and convivial introspection alongside sinewy tone stretching.
One of the tent poles on which the contemporary Belgian scene rests, Brussels-based Verbruggen has put in time with affiliations such as the Flat Earth Society and the Jef Neve Trio. He has more challenge and freedom of expression in the B.O.A.T., especially judging from his choice of associates. Trumpeter Nate Wooley and reedist Andrew d’Angelo are certified downtown New Yorkers, who with in many other groups; French guitarist Marc Ducret exhibits a personal method of Jazz-Rock fusion; Dutch bassist Jasper Stadhouders has worked with everyone from Ken Vandermark to Cactus Truck; and fellow Belgian Fender Rhodes player Jozef Dumoulin has a trio with Ellery Eskelin as well as other commitments
Ducret ends up being the chief rotator on Spinning Jenny since three of the six compositions are his; and his solos are hand-crafted in such a way that they can’t be confused for those from other guitarists. Characteristic is “Cannon”, but unlike a standard cannon, the repeated motifs are supplied by guitar grinds, keyboard echoing circulation and double-bass blasts. Meanwhile high-pitched flutter tones from the horns fade in and out as if a circus band is marching past a Rock club. Similar tropes are used on the guitarist’s other compositions, although in those cases moderato themes are interrupted by Verbruggen’s densely positioned drum beats and glossy wave-form processing from electronic instruments. Vitality is also overlaid by d’Angelo’s downward smearing bass clarinet riffs.
Serendipitously enough, despite different backgrounds, Dumoulin and Wooley have composed the most Jazz-oriented pieces. The trumpeter’s “Back to My Steel” moves from melancholic scene-setting with muted trumpet and thumping bass line to a Free Jazz (Rock) party sense, with vibrations moving every which way from each player. The keyboardist’s “19” is near-Bebop, steadied by rhythm section strumming and drumming, with contrapuntal segmented inserted via piano glissandi and jumping horn riffs.
B.O.A.T.’s ability to suggest a marching band parading past a Rock club, so that separate musical conceptions leak into one another is showcased at length in d’Angelo’s more than 24½ -minute “FTDOY”. Such is the skill of the participants though, that ancillary textures that mate electronic wiggling plus a full-fledged Jazz breaks from the drummer add further sonic suggestions to the tune. With Ducret’s arena-Rock flanges and parade ground rhythm dispassion from the rhythm section, descriptive polyphony is established. Soon afterwards the composer ups the ante, angling reed bites and multiphonics from his saxophone at precisely the same time as electric piano pumps and Verbruggen’s faultless beat establish swing parameters. By the climax the five-initial tune vibrates with unsurprising excitement as jam band electric-instrument wavering, vamping horn breaks and isolated guitar note shards from Ducret are heard improvising with criss-crossing substance until the tune reaches a rugged finale via a concluding guitar strum.
With its novel mixture of Jazz, Rock, Electronics and who knows what else, Spinning Jenny is one B.O.A.T. on which you’d like to be a passenger.
Track Listing: 1. Back to My Steel 2. Canon 3. 19 4. FTDOY 5. Blues de L’Ombre 6. Aquatique
Personnel: Nate Wooley (trumpet); Andrew d’Angelo (alto saxophone and bass clarinet); Jozef Dumoulin (Fender Rhodes); Marc Ducret (guitar); Jasper Stadhouders (bass) and Teun Verbruggen (drums and electronics)