Tuesday 28 January 2014

Exciting Jazz With Benjamin Herman Quartet

Last year Benjamin Herman showed that you can make old jazz standards sound fresh by playing them with respect and lots of excitement. His album Café Solo has some old jazz favourites that have been done many times, but his trio play them like they are brand new. Now he is releasing a live album with a quartet and is playing a small tour in support of it.

Benjamin Herman Quartet at Bimhuis Amsterdam, January 25 2014

The trio consisting of drummer Joost Patočka and bass player Ernst Glerum has been extended into a quartet with piano player Miguel Rodriguez. It adds another dimension to the music. Herman's recognizable alto sax sound colours nicely with Rodriguez' sparkling piano play. Herman regularly steps away from the spot light to let the rest shine. Glerum and Patočka are getting the best out of each other while occasionally exchanging naughty smiles like school boys. Herman sometimes needs to bring them back in line. In solos the musicians are challenging each other and even manage to surprise the other band members now and then.

It only shows how much these musicians enjoy playing their music. The crowd notices this as well and are getting more and more excited with each song. Herman is using the same enthusiasm when he's talking about the songs in between. His small tongue-in-cheek speeches make it a light performance. Nothing heavy, just a bunch of very talented musicians and a hungry crowd. He introduces Henry Macini's 'Lujon' by referring to "The Dude's" trip in 'The Big Lebowski' where the song was used.

Although playing a few songs from Café Solo like 'Summertime' and 'Yakhal’ Inkomo', he's not only sticking to songs from that record. Instead the four are also playing songs from several other albums and jazz standards like 'You Must Believe In Spring'. In the end this band shows where the fun is in jazz and music in general. They could even put a smile on the face of the most grumpy person.

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