With the tour just after the release of his cd “When the birds leave’ had bassist Drew Gress and drummer Billy Hart absentia. This time, they were there, and could saxophonist Robin Verheyen took office with his entire ‘American quartet’.
Verheyen, artist in residence at the Middelheim, in Marc Copland a perfect musical comrade-in-arms found. The lyrical pianist fits very well with the compositions Verheyen for this quartet wrote. As with the title song, that the band here with a lot of verve tackled and in which Copland a catchy solo played. Verheyen changed as always between tenor and soprano sax, on which he has a very unique sound.
Six songs from the new cd passed the revue, of the intimate ‘Melody for Paul’ to the compelling ‘Vesper’. But the best came at the very end, with ‘Jabali’s way’, a composition that Verheyen wrote for drummer Billy Hart. With a powerful intro illustrated Heart why he has such a good reputation – the man has nothing to do with greats such as Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis worked. The saxophonist picked up in that number with a sultry tenorsolo which he the spirit of John Coltrane left to revive – much more than Kamasi Washington two days ago.
Verheyen, from Turnhout, but for years New Yorker, was, according to his own count for the seventh time on the stage of Jazz Middelheim. We were not always close, but this has got to be the best of times.