Wagner en Chopin for big band

DNM 6, 2020
by Klaas Koopman

The Netherlands is one great big band richer: The Peter Beets & Henk Meutgeert New Jazz Orchestra. Concerts at the Concertgebouw and Bimhuis on April 22nd and October 15th 2019, respectively, were recorded and released on CD under the title The Flying Dutchman. Thank goodness, because due to the high cost, big bands perform only sporadically. This CD brings the music of the New Jazz Orchestra within everyone’s reach. The Flying Dutchman also paints a comprehensive picture of the band’s sound and repertoire.

Meutgeert (72) was the founder and conductor of the Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw up until his retirement several years ago. Peter Beets was and is the pianist of this orchestra. Meutgeert is not one to sit idle, and Beets was ready for a new adventure. This birthed their latest collaboration, The New Jazz Orchestra, for which they have mainly recruited young talent.

The most striking composition of Meutgeert’s is the title track, inspired by Richard Wagner. This original, swinging arrangement almost makes the band sound like the Woody Herman Herd with phenomenal solos from alto player Mo van der Does and a naturally high-energy, tempo-chasing Beets. A prime example of the exclusive and unique repertoire of this 18-man-&-woman strong big band is Chopin’s Mazurka, a Spanish-tinged piece in three-four time clocking in at nearly eleven minutes. And Piazolla’s Concierto para Quinteto, so that even the tango is not forgotten.

Further along on the CD are the classic standards All the Things You Are, with a soulful solo from alto Jasper van Damme, Our Love is Here to Stay and the 1948 ballad Jenny, where trumpet player Gidon Nunes Vaz shines. The CD concludes with The Blues, a driving composition by Meutgeert.

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