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BEN SLUIJS QUARTET

«Particles»
OFF-RECORDS, OCD039

Belgian reeds player Ben SluIjs is one of the unsung heroes of the local jazz scene despite a busy career that spans almost three decades. He has played with Philip Catherine and Toots Thielemans, collaborated with poets and spoken-word artists and for more than twenty years leads and recording his own projects, his quartet, ad-hoc collaborative outfits and solo outings. «Particles» documents Sluijs new quartet, featuring veteran drummer Dré Pallemaerts, known for his collaborations with pianists Fred Hersch and Bill Carrothers and sax player Mark turner among many others, and younger pianist Bram de Looze, known from LABtrio and his own «Septych» project (Clean Feed, 2015), and double bass player Lennart Heyndels, who plays in pianist Kaja Draksler Octet.

The new quartet debuted at the 2016 edition of the local Jazz Middelheim festival, and already established an immediate, intimate interplay and solidified its warm and lyrical sound, performed with captivating elegance. Sluijs’ own modesty led him to choose like-minded, attentive partners who put the music first, though he leaves enough space for all to interpret his melodic themes in their own way and in their own time.

Sluijs compositions suggest his personal perspective of the American post-bop legacy, transformed into the more peaceful West European sceneries. His spiritual vein is highlighted in his touching homage to the late Yusef Lateef, «Song for Yusef», and the exotic and meditative «Mali», sounding like homage to other sonic explorers as Alice Coltrane and Don Cherry. «Miles Behind» offers a leisured swinging mode and «Cell Mates» pushes this rhythmic mode even further . On both pieces Sluijs alto sax solo reference John Coltrane spiraling attacks. The dreamy, emotional ballads «Air Castles» and «Ice Chrystal» even come close to the impressionist-melancholic territories of the ECM school.

Beautiful gem.

Eyal Hareuveni

Ben Sluijs (as, fl, alto fl), Bram de Looze (p), Lennart Heyndels (b), Dré Pallemaerts (dr)