Teus Nobel Liberty Group: Human First

Inspired by late 60s and early 70s Hancock, Dutch trumpeter redolent of Woody Shaw mixes post-bop and jazz-rock


Like all jazz artists, Dutch trumpeter Teus Nobel was affected enormously by the Covid-19 pandemic. The social turning point inspired the new album of his Liberty Group, follow-up to the band’s live album Pleasure Is The Measure, reviewed here.

Nobel took a statement about the value of family and social ties by Herbie Hancock as leitmotiv. Hancock’s adventurous work in the late 1960s and early 1970s is one of the backbones of Nobel’s superb post-bop and jazz-rock suite.

Divided equally between acoustic and electric jazz – for the latter, Nobel’s quintet is expanded with the Fender Rhodes piano of Van Popta, the guitar of Teis Semey and tenor sax of Jasper Blom – Human First is captivating from beginning to end and offers a gripping dynamic of tenderness and uproar.

Well-known Liberty Group terrain, Van Popta’s When Riku Saw The Colors Dancing is a strong, serene melody, underlined by suspenseful bass piano notes and a sparse chordal context and embellished by the calmly paced, ripe red shadings of Nobel’s (partly muted) flugelhorn.

The band kicks it up a notch with Human First, a hypnotic piece of jazz-rock that links such extremes as thunder and still water, pirate beard and babyface. Nobel, whose bold, large intervals and thrilling yet finely meshed story developments bear the mark of brilliant forebear Woody Shaw, and for that matter the retired Dutch class act Jarmo Hoogendijk, is in fine form.

It is striking that all soloists (all five band mates take centre stage at one time or other) tastefully adapt to the sensuous and occasionally downright raucous story line of Human First. A terrific rollercoaster of a record that puts Teus Nobel Liberty Group firmly in the vanguard of hip European jazz post-modernists. 

When Riku Saw The Colors Dancing Part 1; Human First Part 1; Human First Part 2; When Riku Saw The Colors Dancing Part 2 (48.14)
Nobel (t); Jasper Blom (ts); Alexander van Popta (p); Teis Semey (g); Jeroen Vierdag (b); Tuur Moens (d). Woerdense Verlaat, 2 & 3 March 2021.
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