The Flatlands Collective – Maatjes (CF 127)
In the liners, Dutch saxophonist Jorrit Dijkstra ruminates about his American music influences leading to his development as an ‘outside’ player in The Netherlands. Here, the artist aligns with the upper echelon of Chicago area performers for an album that was recorded subsequent to the band’s European tour.
The sextet makes the most of its somewhat odd instrumentation groupings, largely due to Dijkstra’s use of the lyricon and analog synth, coupled with cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm’s analog electronics. As they engineer these works upon layered textures and semi-structured song-forms.
On “Mission Rocker,” drummer Frank Rosaly provides a weighty rock pulse, nicely contrasted by clarinetist James Falzone and trombonist Jeb Bishop’s crisp unison choruses over the top. Cleverly designed contrasts are in abundance here and throughout the program.
The musicians delve into playful free-form antics at times, but pursue melodic phrasings to counterbalance the avant, element. In effect, it’s one of the quotients that provides a successful recipe. They intermingle the best of many musical worlds while conjuring up a hodgepodge of mood-enhancing dialogues to include some wily EFX injections, namely on the piece “In D Flat Minor.”
One of the many highlights is the composition “Druil,” featuring a burgeoning and powerful horns-based and rhythmic thematic buildup. It’s a vibrant work, topped off by a progression of memorable hooks, and Dijsktra’s edgy alto sax solo to complement Falzone’s whirling clarinet voicings. Yet the band often tosses in a few loops, where Dijsktra offsets the mood with a murky synth solo.
You can expect the unexpected on this irrefutably persuasive release. However, it all makes near perfect musical sense. They’re an artsy outfit that instills a singular group-centric voice into the overall picture. In sum, it’s essential listening for progressive-jazz aficionados.