The music on this album is inspired by some of Bela Bartok’s pieces, and there are clear references throughout, in the glimpses of folk and dance-like sections that appear. Although there is this classical connection, the music combines this with other elements to take the improvisations further. This is helped particularly by the forceful presence of Gene Calderazzo, whose drumming is always interesting, urgent and propulsive – just listen to his use of snare on The Wave.
The tracks differ in approach, although they fall broadly into those that have more of a reflective or even mesmeric effect, such as What Happens Now and Mirror, and those with a dramatic, more dynamic feel, as in Fool In The Grave or Past/Present. On occasion, Bartok’s Mikrokosmos piano pieces spring to mind, in which simple sequences are explored, moving towards polytonality, and where the melodic lines run independently. Here they move further to abstraction and often into thunderous fullness. This is effectively achieved through the combination of Heinen and the deep sound of Andrea Di Biase, creating a heavy bass dominance.
The bassist’s classical background is apparent in the bowed passages; accurate, inventive and melodious – the introduction and solo on Fool In The Grave a case in point, which establishes the direction the piece takes. Stirring, dark and threatening, plumbing the depths of the soul. Heinen has noted his admiration for Ellington, and this occasionally comes through, notably the way Duke played on the Money Jungle trio recordings; tense dark chords and dissonance over the polyrhythms.
On Past And Present, the pianist’s assertive and dramatic chordal introduction lays the platform for some spirited and vibrant drumming. Calderazzo, producing a barrage of sound, explores and deals with the tempo changes without losing any feeling of swing. In contrast, Mirror has a more impressionistic passage of solo piano.
Look Before You Leap and Homecoming see Heinen on electric piano, much in the vein of Chick Corea, another cited by the pianist as an influence, no doubt sharing the idea of assimilating dance qualities in jazz and folk music with that of classical strands. However, there are brief instances elsewhere that remind this writer of Corea on Pete La Roca’s Turkish Women At The Bath and its repetition of a one-measure phrase. An interesting release, worth repeated listenings, and you can sample it here.
What Happens Now; Devil’s Ditty; Fool In The Grave; The Wave; Look Before You Leap; Past/Present; Mirror; Homecoming (52.30)
Heinen (p); Andrea Di Biase (b); Gene Calderazzo (d). London, September 2019.
Heinen Records CD HRBHCD01 / Vinyl HRBHLP01