Tineke Postma: For the Rhythm

[14 April 2006]

By Robert R. Calder

A young Dutch lady altoist, and quite something! Beside signs of a concern to market her to a David Sanborn audience, there is the sound of a musical performance above what’s taken for granted from Sanborn. There’s a sort of funk-jazz alto-playing which blends perfectly within a standard ensemble, and is perfectly characterless. She doesn’t do that!

After a delicate piano flourish, the opener, her own “Summersong”, hints at the genre, but beyond the interplay with Edoardo Righini’s guitar there’s a considerable passion. Terry Lynne Carrington keeps a good thing going in the drums, and Rob van Bavel makes no concessions to any superficial funk trappings in his piano solo. The passion and beauty of Ms. Postma’s saxophone playing can seldom have been demonstrated better than on Kenny Barron’s “Voyage”, with Ms. Carrington her usual vigorous self and Jeroen Vierdag laying down a solid bass line for an unbroken alto solo, pretty tone, throaty, and quite different from the more funk ensemble style with Righini and van Bavel (on Fender Rhodes) added for the altoist’s “Comprehension”, Darryl Hall taking over on bass, and assisting the keyboardist in provision of atmospheric support for a guitar solo of class. The alto solo is a real bopper’s, in the same club and approaching the same class as Charles McPherson and Phil Woods. “Pump it Up!” has likewise something of a trendy beginning, with bass and guitar spreading the sound behind the pianist. Again, any resemblance to the playing of funk clichés vanishes quickly when the soloing begins.

“Dialog” again opens with interplay between guitar, bass, piano, saxophone, but individually atmospheric. The saxophone is this time soprano, and once the arranged bit’s through there’s plenty atmosphere in simply the quartet of saxophone, piano, bass and drums plus background supportive guitar. Classy pianist, van Bavel; Hall and Carrington doing sterling service. “Song for Sea-Tee” (CT?) opens with guitar and then almost blusey, big-toned alto on a ballad which sounds slowed down: very laid back tempo, almost falling over but for the push of bass and shove of drums.  On “New Life”, Ms. Carrington’s slapping with brushes, the tempo is again dead slow, and the bass (still Hall) wrestles the music into maintaining forward impulsion, van Bavel quiet and dreamy.

“Wandering” starts in the same backwaters with some suggestion of thrusting out into something different. The pace isn’t notably quicker, but the alto sound is more compact again, and the rhythm definite; and the playing goes into double tempo. The pianist leaves no doubt that although the lady leader is no mere local performer, neither is he. He has an individual way of picking up tempo, and the music keeps going somewhere, and seems to have got somewhere. Carrington’s drum solo is vigorous and consolidating.

Gordon Jenkins’s “Goodbye” brings back the looser, bigger, and now more plainly lyrical sound in the alto, floating the ballad over two-handed piano not slow to respond with an echo of one phrase, or a filling in when another softens and the forward impulse needs to be maintained. Atmosphere is further developed toward a conclusion which extends through an unaccompanied coda. A duet of compeers.

Hall’s the bassist playing the solo opening to Alex North’s “Love Theme”. Carrington comes in with superficially scattery, but really pointed brushwork, and the altoist’s phrasing is really very distinctive on this trio performance, Hall pacing her where she sounds tender and passionate, and ventures some high note playing which suggests a hasty reviewer might sometime confuse her alto playing with her soprano work. With Carrington socking firmly but tastefully, the closer and title track starts as a trio number, Vierdag on bass. The Fender Rhodes eventually comes in, and this is a good place to mention reasons not to disapprove the blurb references to Ms. Postma’s affinity with Cannonball Adderley, listening to the Fender Rhodes solo, and the guitar-like playing with which van Bavel matches the altoist, and they both outdo some of the earlier effects of alto plus guitar. I was slightly reminded of a set of very early Jackie McLean recordings I had for review recently. They don’t sound like he did later, they have an amazing freshness, rather more than potential and (as is clear in the case of McLean) with at times only generalised suggestions of what was to come: but above all worth listening to. There’s something of the same underweight quality overall here, if I have to centre on the work of the lady under whose name this set came out. But she is in extremely good company, a good blend on what are mostly her own, mostly vivid compositions. I’d like to hear more of her in a little while.  (Tomorrow would be fine, but who knows what a couple more years might bring!).

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/tineke_postma_for_the_rhythm/