By Alex W. Rodriguez | Published March 2019
Jazz musicians know a thing or two about grueling travel schedules. Belgian bassist Piet Verbist, a veteran of two decades of jazz globetrotting, draws from the experience and gathers longtime friends for Suite Réunion, an album that exudes effervescence throughout as pieces oscillate between cool, lyrical openness and upbeat swing.
“Mygratum” opens the recording with a heartfelt and lyrical exposition for solo bass that showcases Verbist’s rich tone. It transitions seamlessly into “Asylum,” which Verbist dedicates to the many travelers seeking refuge in his homeland. The melody features modal structures that draw on stereotypes of Europe’s “others,” but weaves them into a series of earnest meditations. This is immediately contrasted with the up-tempo “Bright Minor,” which brings brisker energy to the proceedings; tenor saxophonist Bart Borremans digs deep into his post-bop vocabulary during a compelling solo. And pianist Bram Weijters’ improvised journey through “Devious Ways” also is noteworthy. All three ride the closing track, a snaking blues melody, to great effect.
Verbist’s compositions, written for this particular constellation of Belgian jazz travelers, provide the center of gravity for this gathering. Firmly within the straightahead jazz idiom, they offer space for both individual and collective expression. Taken together, they give compelling testimony to the ways musical friendships can last a lifetime—and how serendipity, inspiration, and a deep dedication to the music can create a spark when friends’ paths do eventually cross.
Suite Réunion: Mygratum; Asylum; Bright Minor; Suite Réunion; Hope In Despair; The Beauty In The Beast; Devious Ways; Blues Excuse. (61:28)
Personnel: Piet Verbist, bass; Bart Borremans, tenor saxophone; Bram Weijters, piano; Dré Pallemaerts, drums; Wim Eggermont, drums (5, 8).