Joris Roelofs Visits an 'Amateur Dentist' and the Results are Anything but Painful [REVIEW]
Think of what a trio comprised of bass clarinet, bass and drums could sound like where the dulcet tones of the lead instrument not only blends, but weaves and insinuates itself through the mix like a human voice as the piano-less rhythm section gurgles and comes alive like some dinosaur fetus kicking out of its egg in the primordial ooze. Welcome to the world inhabited by Dutch composer Joris Roelof, 32, he of the esoteric bass clarinet, on Amateur Dentist (Pirouet Records). New Zealander Bassist Matt Penman, 42, and American drummer Ted Poor, 35, break out of this fragile eggshell mix to provide the proper context for Joris to ramble.
The follow-up to their 2014 Aliens Deliberating debut, Amateur Dentist may sound painful but is anything but. It swings. It sooths. It even calcifies into the no-improv zone of Russian composer Alexander Scriabin [1872-1915] for the majestic "Funebre" (taken from "Piano Sonata #1, Opus #6 in F-Minor") but I still swear I hear from improvisation going on. Or did Scriabin really write all those notes? We certainly know that Duke Ellington [1899-1974] left some wiggle room for his guys when he wrote "Such Sweet Thunder" which Roelofs turns into a meditation.
Plus, he has a sense of humor. His brief (1:16) "Pseudo Bebop" is all odd angles, jarring definition and seemingly a runaway train. Wouldst it could have been longer. But that's how Roelofs rolls. His "Para Poli" translates to "too much" in Greek and, indeed, seems to contain too many notes. It's a flurry of zigzag confusion (but only if you try to comprehend too hard...better to just lay back and enjoy.) Ditto for the drummer's "Twerp" or the leader's 1:21 title tune.
This is some of the most creative, spellbinding and mesmerizing jazz to come out of Germany this year.