Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Joris Teepe Big Band: We Take No Prisoners

Challenge Records
By Ric Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 3.4.10
Buy CD: We Take No Prisoners

Bassist Joris Teepe is another of the many Netherlands musicians who now make their primary home in New York; he has lived there since 1992. He composes and arranges for groups in his original homeland, in Romania and the United States. The organizations range in size from quartets to big bands and symphony orchestras.

In his spare time, he teaches.

This album features his 17-piece big band, consisting of eight brass, five reeds and a four-member rhythm section. It's a stunning, beautifully rehearsed group that plays half a dozen of Teepe's compositions. The style is quite modern, but nicely swinging. It's the kind of music that is best appreciated in a concert setting: complex at times, but interesting enough to hold your full attention.

I've listened to this album again and again, each time hearing something new.

A note of interest: Some of the compositions and arrangements originally were written for an 87-piece symphony orchestra, then were rearranged for big band.

Comparing Teepe's group to other, comparably sized bands of today, reminds me of what happened when Stan Kenton's first big band appeared, years ago. His sound initially was labeled “symphonic jazz,” “artistry in rhythm” and other, similar descriptors. Kenton's work was more complex, but it still swung.

So does Tempe's big band.

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