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Music Review: Joris Teepe Big Band – We Take No Prisoners

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Born and raised in The Netherlands but a straight New Yorker since ’92, bassist Joris Teepe has been plying his trade around the world to great success. In 2007, he was commissioned to compose music for the North Netherlands Symphony Orchestra and was asked to perform with his Joris Teepe Quartet. Following the acclaim from those concerts, Teepe performed his own music as a guest soloist for Radio Big Band in Bucharest.

The Joris Teepe Big Band is the culmination of those experiences, emanating largely from the Bucharest concert into an outfit with 17 musicians and a whole whack of energy and style.

With We Take No Prisoners, Teepe’s group plays with a brilliant fusion of international sensibility and New York jazz club swagger. There’s an earthiness to the compositions that unwinds as the pieces melt and bubble down various avenues of style and substance. Teepe’s tactic is clear: energy and lots of it.

Using Teepe’s bass and Gene Jackson’s drums and cymbals as the foundation to the pieces, the Joris Teepe Big Band blasts full steam ahead. The compositions are boisterous and confident, showing off the soloists with heartiness. Teepe’s work creates a sort of “jam session” sensation throughout the record, as though the musicians are playing just for kicks.

That sense of raw enjoyment is present on all of the tracks, but really comes out to play in a big way on the title track. With solos from pianist Jon Davis, baritone saxophonist Jason Marshall, bass trombonist Earl McIntyre, and trumpeter Vitaly Golovnev, the number has enough jump and pop for the most lively of listeners.

Tinged with Bruce Arnold’s guitar, the bluesy “Peace on Earth” is a terrifically cheeky piece. Michael P. Mossman’s trumpet accents the cut nicely, while Jackson’s fills add texture and flair without overwhelming the other musicians.

Teepe gets to step to the forefront with a bass solo on “The Princess and the Monster,” giving context to a Jackson drum solo and a nice piece of work by Davis.

We Take No Prisoners is a high energy jazz record, dynamically showing off the work of the Joris Teepe Big Band through precise, exciting solos and brilliantly fun unison playing. Teepe’s compositions are flavourful and unique, spiced with a slick tone that is both broadly international and intimately New York.

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