De Beren Gieren is a uniquely different sort of improvisational-compositional piano trio from Benelux. Their recent album One Mirrors Many (Clean Feed 344) has been absorbing my attention in the past weeks and I emerge from my ear-time attention to talk about it a bit.
The compositions and the piano chair are both held down definitively by Fulco Ottervanger. Lieven Van Pee is the bassist; Simon Segers is on drums. They have a remarkable cohesiveness together and a sound perhaps like no other. The stance is one of a brightly defining set of sound colors via conventional and extended techniques on all three instruments. Fulco plays inside and outside the piano in remarkable ways, and the same is true to a somewhat lesser extent by Lieven and Simon. There is occasionally some very subtle alteration of the piano sound, etc., by effects, or so I hear something in the sound that would so indicate. It is very sparingly utilized and works quite well.
The compositions have a special kind of innovative quality to them. There are ruminative adventures in harmonic and melodic creativity, there are striking sonic envelopes created in various ways, and each artist takes on a prominent role in making the pieces come to life via unusual patterns and improvisational extensions.
It is thoroughly a music of today, born out of piano trio traditions going forward from, say, Bill Evans’ time through Bley, Kuhn, early Jarrett and much more besides. The end result is striking and well conceived, with both a new music and a modern/free jazz piano trio component that meld seamlessly into an expressive uniqueness.
The trio comes at you with an accomplished amalgam that begins with Ottervanger’s well defined piano/compositional way and extends to some consistently ear-worthy bass and drum styles that fit exceptionally well with the piano soundings. The music is advanced and lyrical, at times brashly bold and stylistically fearless. The sequence of pieces are all together a fascinating adventure in what can be done with a special vision and sound color approach that is carried through and brought to full fruition.
It’s a most unusual and innovative set from some startling players. I would strongly suggest you hear this!