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W.E.R.F., WERF211

The Belgian trio Jukwaa was never a conventional piano-bass-drums trio and since its inception in 2013 focused on pushing the boundaries of this format, alone and with guests who enriched its aesthetics even more. Adapt, the fourth album of this trio – pianist Thijs Troch, who plays a prepared piano and a banjo, double bass player Nils Vermeulen, who also plays violin, banjo, Casio keyboard and percussion, and drummer-percussionist Sigfried Burroughs, attempts to adapt itself to the piano-bass-drums jazz format, but in Jukwaa’s own terms.

Adapt offers two long-form pieces. The first, the 28-minute «Recognize» begins in a muscular and urgent rhythmic jazz mode, but soon Jukwaa begins its intuitive but sparse sonic searches with prepared piano, banjos, violin and percussive objects, and creates an imaginative, colorful and playful soundscape. The urgent jazz mode shifts into a contemplative and fragile mode. When Jukwaa returns to the piano-bass-drums format «the double bass is a bass and not a bass, the drums are drums and not drums, the piano is a piano and not a piano», as Norwegian double bass player Håkon Thelin master described Jukwaa’s previous album, Cushion (Smerladina-Rima, 2018), and the trio avoids all automatisms that comes with this format and dives deep into an intense and dense dynamics.

The second piece, the 15-minute «Change» is another adventurous and radical variation on the piano-bass-drums format. The restless drumming of Burroughs drives its first part, accompanied by minimalist, repetitive contributions of Troch and Vermeulen. Later, Vermeulen bowed double bass solo, with its multiphonics, sends this piece into an enigmatic and ethereal drone, accompanied by resonating percussive instruments, and, again, Jukwaa searches for unchartered, sparse sonic territories with banjos, violin and percussion. When the trio returns to the piano-bass-drums format it keeps the sparse and minimalist dynamics, but with a meditative, Feldman-esque atmosphere.

Eyal Hareuveni 

Thijs Troch (p, bjo), Nils Vermeulen (b, vio, bjo, Casio, perc), Sigfried Burroughs (dr, perc)

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