Tuesday, July 7, 2009

"B" is for BOSTLAP - Michiel Borstlap

I've heard it said that in order to have "something new" stick to one's consciousness, one's consciousness must be interrupted by that "something new" on three separate occasions. That's what happened to me with Dutch pianist/composer Michiel Borstlap.

One of my favourite pastimes (as is likely the case with any self-respecting music geek (I use the term affectionately)) is to root around in "good record stores" (they are few and far between - and sadly getting fewer every day) just to see what they have in stock. While browsing through one of my favourites one day I came across Michiel Borstlap's 2001 release, Gramercy Park. The first thing that occurred to me was that I'd never heard of this guy before. The second was that this guy that I'd never heard of had the "cahones" to put out a three CD release! There was nothing to read on the package so I left it at that. That was my first encounter with Michiel Borstlap.

In January of this year (January 8 to be exact) the collective to which I belong presented our annual FAVOURITES OF THE YEAR group program on our weekly radio show, Now's The Time. One of my fellow members of the Improvised Music Collective, Jim Reil, chose a trio recording by Han Bennink, Ernst Glerum and, yes, Michiel Borstlap - Monk Volume One as one his ten faves of the year. Naturally, when one of us raves about a recording the rest of us take notice. That was my second encounter with the increasingly mysterious (to me) Michiel Borstlap.

Then, two weeks later, while updating my Rate Your Music profile, I saw a review for Borstlap's album Body Acoustic. That third encounter sealed my "need" to find out more about him.

Since then I've been digging into his work and I've been impressed with what I've heard. So Mr. Borstlap holds down the "B" position in out alphabetic countdown...

What we have here is a selection from music from five of his recordings: Day Off; Residence; Gramercy Park; Coffee & Jazz; and Body Acoustic that span the late 90's to 2005. This last recording is a tribute to the music of Weather Report but possesses few similarities to the fusion super group, other than the compositions (all but one are Zawinul or Shorter compositions) and that's what makes this recording so compelling. It isn't a re-playing of their music but an inspired and original presentation of their compositions (as is the Monk tribute cited above).
The playlist for our "getting-to-know-you" program is:

1. Man in the Green Shirt - 7:25 (Body Acoustic)
2. How Long Has This Been Going On? - 8:12 (Day Off)
3. Autumn Leaves - 12:37 (Coffee & Jazz)
4. Dolphin Dance - 10:28 (Gramercy Park, CD 1)
5. In Your Own Sweet Way - 10:48 (Residence)
6. All Blues - 10:58 (Gramercy Park, CD 2)
7. Birdland - 5:06 (Body Acoustic)


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