Jan 27, 2020
Big bands are the incubator for new talent.
With that thought in mind, Peter Beets and Henk Meutgeert started an ambitious new project in 2018: The New Jazz Orchestra, a big band with new, young top-level talent.
The CD “The Flying Dutchman” is the first test of their mettle, and it’s more than successful. The recordings were compiled from concerts in the Concertgebouw and Bimhuis, Amsterdam. The band is bursting from the seams with talent. And what’s even more striking is the joy in playing that comes through.
Meutgeert put together a fun and surprising program, where classical compositions as well as jazz standards are given adventurous and refreshing treatment. If you wince at the idea of Wagner’s “Flying Dutchman” and the “Mazurka” by Chopin being jazzed up, don’t worry. The New Jazz Orchestra gives these familiar melodies a makeover with plenty of room to solo on the themes. The driving rhythm section is of top quality, with master drummer in the making, Wouter Kühne on the drum chair. The controlled power in which he drives Chopin’s “Mazurka” is incredible.
I had the pleasure of hearing this band in Nistelrode, with a mostly older audience who were visibly blown out of their chairs. If it couldn’t be a little quieter. However, the New Jazz Orchestra doesn’t back down. What stands out or the refreshing arrangements from Meutgeert, where soli sections for the saxes are reminiscent of the bands of Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland and of Stan Kenton and his many colors of sound.
It’s not all violence and heft. The sensitive woodwind introduction of “All the Things You Are” by the saxophone section is a delicate beauty, after which Jasper van Damme plays an excellent solo on this timeless song. Applaus is his reward. I have typed the list of all the musicians on the CD cover. The New Jazz Orchestra counts several top musicians, mostly young, ambitious and talented. In the incubator that is this orchestra, they have a wonderful opportunity to evolve. We are sure to hear more from them.