|Braam has been working with de Joode and Vatcher for over 15 years now, and Change This Song shows how tight an ensemble this trio has become. Braam’s puckish sense of humor comes through from the herky-jerk angular theme of the opening “Angst, Once High” (all the tunes are quirky anagrams of the title). The tune elicits part Herbie Nichols, part Ellington, and part Cecil Taylor without either drawing too explicitly on any of them or losing their personal edge. The three players stutter their way across the changes, tumbling along, halting, and then turning on a dime to careen off again.
De Joode is the bass player to have for music like this, having worked with musicians like Ab Baars, Fuhler, and Eric Boeren (along with Vatcher) as just a few examples. He can drive the bottom end, navigating Braam’s labyrinthine tunes with ease. But he is just as apt to jump to the front line, serving as a foil for the pianist’s splayed clusters. Vatcher slices and dices the odd time signatures with a light touch and supple sense of free swing. Braam plays off of this with flourishes that draw on the entire gamut of the piano tradition from stride to freedom.
But this is no mere display of astonishing facility (thought there is a plethora of that at play). It is how they put it all together, pacing each tune with a compositional sense of structure while leaving plenty of opportunity for spontaneous interplay. That balance provides the set with an electrifying sense of tension from start to finish, whether careening along through hairpin turns or quietly working through pools of meditative tranquility. The live recording, captured with the usual spectacular fidelity by Dick Lucas, is a perfect introduction to this trio, and a worthy follow-up to the equally stellar Colors, the trio’s last release. - One Final Note