Dutch pianist/composer Bob Wijnen released NYC Unforeseen, his debut album, as ensemble leader on February 8, 2016. It is a lively, straight-ahead set of nine songs, six Wijnen originals and three covers, all testimony to the tasteful approach and the intelligent vitality of his music. This is the kind of jazz that doesn’t have to grow on you; this is the kind of jazz that makes itself felt from the first time you hear it. There is plenty of jazz that forces itself on the listener, but not Wijnen. Wijnen’s is jazz you want to listen to.
Here he works with guitarist Peter Bernstein, who makes his presence felt with dynamic solo work on nearly every track, while joining with bassist Dezron Douglas and drummer Billy Drummond to build the kind of solid, reliable rhythmic foundation fine jazz demands.
Wijnen can handle a ballad with an impressive lyrical touch: His “E for Eye Opener” is about as good as it gets, and the creative subtlety of his work with Douglas on the Bacharach classic, “The Look of Love,” is masterful on the part of both musicians. Uptempo as well, he is no slouch. “Baby Steps” has both Bernstein and Wijnen ready to take some real “giant” steps. “Sublime Indifference,” a Bernstein composition, gives everyone a chance to romp, and Drummond takes the opportunity to take one of those high energy drum solos that could have the rest of the band laying down their instruments and going out for a smoke.
The album opens with the title song, and as Wijnen announces in the album notes, “New York gives me the energy to fly.” And fly he does, as the give and take, first with Drummond and from the very beginning sets the collaborative tone of the album. He and Bernstein do a sweet job on Stevie Wonder’s “If It’s Magic.” “Treehouse,” “Bring It Together,” and “The Jellyfish Blues (Says Dez)” round out the album.