In April 2022 Belgian guitarist Dirk Serries, was offered a 4-day artist residency at the Dutch Roadburn festival in Tilburg. Series presented on the last day of his residency the new quintet of his partner, pianist-multiinstrumentalist-photographer (and mindfulness trainer) Martina Verhoeven – Verhoeven on piano, Serries on electric guitar, British alto sax player Colin Webster, Portuguese double bass player Gonçalo Almeida and Dutch drummer Onno Govaert. All five musicians collaborated before in different projects of Serries and Verhoeven. The album Driven documents the live performance of the quintet at the Paradox jazz club, fully packed with an enthusiastic audience.
It takes only a few seconds before the quintet explodes with an ecstatic free jazz blowout, with Verhoeven all over the piano and Webster in a total Peter Brötzmann mode, while Serries, Almeida, and Govaert keep pumping the fiery dynamics. But after about nine highly energetic minutes the quintet suddenly changes courses and explores a searching, abstract free improvised mode that calls for individual solos, briefly corresponds with Serries past ambient projects, and slowly builds its fragile tension and its climatic free jazz power again. And, again, the quintet swings to a more sparse and introspective, free improvised mode and patiently and organically builds its voluminous power again, driven by its manic energy. The short encore offers a loose melodic theme and a more playful vibe.
The quintet sounds as if it has been playing for years now, totally possessed by the intensity and the excitement of the moment, as a tight unit that nothing can stop it. And it plays with an electrifying power that can compensate for the current fossil shortage in Europe. The good news is that this was not a one-off event. The quintet will return to the Paradox for another performance in February 2023.
Martina Verhoeven (p), Gonçalo Almeida (b), Onno Govaert (dr), Dirk Serries (el.g), Colin Webster (as)