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Jaap Blonk’s Retirement Overdue: New Start

In brief:
"The words – I'm not sure you'd call them lyrics – are very witty. This is characteristic and rewarding work by an Old Dutch master"

“When I was about to turn sixty-five, I thought: why not start a new band, and give it a name that asks for consistent challenge: Jaap Blonk’s Retirement Overdue … And since it is twenty years ago that I last had a regular band that played mostly my pieces, this is a New Start”. Thus the leader.

With Blonk on voice and electronics, his band features three younger luminaries of the Amsterdam improvised music scene: Frank Rosaly, Jasper Stadhouders and Miguel Petruccelli. Rosaly was a mainstay of the Chicago scene; the Uruguayan Miguel Petruccelli has been based in Amsterdam for several years. Both Petruccelli and Stadhouders play electric guitar as well as bass guitar.

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All compositions are by Blonk, often collectively improvised with the group, except for Leonard Bernstein’s Somewhere, and Rápido Y Leve by Jasper Stadhouders, which has text by Blonk. The result is a characteristically exuberant and entertaining set of performances, and I’m reminded of the memorable Blonk gig I heard in 2016, at York Medical Society Rooms, which included a performance of Kurt Schwitters’ Ursonate.

Blonk was born in 1953 in Woerden, Netherlands, and took up saxophone in the late 1970s. It was a few years before he discovered his true metier as a vocal performer – reciting poetry, and eventually creating new sounds through vocal improvisation. From the mid-90s, Blonk began working with electronics, using samples of his own voice, and eventually pure sound synthesis.

These recordings give some indication of Blonk’s stage presence and improvisational freedom. The band has a rough energy that’s been called “Dada-punk”, and the results are a bit scrappy – but that’s the ethos. The very fractured No Go Area is an excellent example, with its fine guitar solo, I presume by Stadhouders. The words – I’m not sure you’d call them lyrics – are very witty. This is characteristic and rewarding work by an Old Dutch master.

Hear/buy Jaap Blonk’s Retirement Overdue: New Start at jaapblonk.bandcamp.com/album/new-start

Discography
CD1: New Start; Talking Drums; Wob Hape; What The President Will Say And Do, Part 1; Kterg; My First Nightmares; Measure The Night; Pook Naw; Retirement Overdue; No Go Area (45.08)
CD2: About Itself; Aggeloeche; Somewhere; Kown Sah; So Wie Damals; What The President Will Say And Do, Part 2; Rápido Y Leve; Nem Boha; I Saw A Wobbzag; How To Be (52.01)
Blonk (v, elec); Miguel Petruccelli (elg, elb); Jasper Stadhouders (elg, elb, md, kologo); Frank Rosaly (d, pc). Antwerp, 11-12 December, 2019.
Kontrans 1066

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"The words – I'm not sure you'd call them lyrics – are very witty. This is characteristic and rewarding work by an Old Dutch master"Jaap Blonk's Retirement Overdue: New Start