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Jobim, from Holland with love

Michiel Buursen and friends surprise and delight in Dualogy.

Daniella Thompson

23 March 2009

Michiel Buursen

Michiel Buursen is a formally trained Dutch jazz pianist, composer, and arranger. “Insansatez,” which he first heard at the age of 12 on Tom Jobim’s The Composer of “Desafinado” Plays, was his gateway to to Brazilian music. Later he graduated to Ivan Lin’s “Começar de Novo” and Baden Powell’s “Berimbau.”

“About ten years ago, a friend intoduced me to Leny Andrade and Cesar Camargo Mariano and a live radio broadcast of a concert in the Netherlands of Leila Pinheiro with Leandro Braga on the piano, and from that moment on I was hooked on that music,” says Buursen. “All my favorite music—Classical, jazz, African and Brasilian nordestino—comes together in the Brazilian way of making music.”

Buursen visited Rio for the first time in 2003 and has been returning ever since. Now he’s released a CD dedicated to Jobim, and it’s refreshing to find that his disc is far removed from the run-of-the-mill albums flooding the market during Bossa Nova’s semi-centennial year.

Dualogy puts the spotlight on lyricism and melodiousness rather than on slavish rhythm, signaling a mature attitude toward the material that Jobim would have approved. Piano solos open and close the album, serving as the bookends to eight duo tracks, each featuring a different guest musician (hence the Dualogy of the title).

The homage begins, appropriately enough, with the tune that awakened Buursen’s interest. In his hands, “Insansatez” is a ruminative piano solo treated as a platform for improvisation. Then soprano saxophonist Thijs van Otterloo joins Buursen in “Gabriela,” playing the bounciness of samba against the piano’s meditativeness.

In the first of two vocal tracks, singer/flutist Inke Krudde interprets “Por Causa de Você” in Portuguese. Gentle and honestly expressed, Inke’s singing interweaves itself with Buursen’s piano rather than being merely accompanied by it.

“Falando de Amor” is a beautiful, low-key dialog with Erik Robaard on fretless bass. It is followed by an extended spare journey along “Estrada do Sol,” in which Buursen is joined by drummer Wim Kegel.

In one of the album’s highlights and the longest of its tracks—the gorgeous “Caminhos Cruzados”—Remmert Tromp’s alto saxophone and Buursen’s piano proceed leisurely, at times playing in unison, at others in counterpoint, all the while building momentum and volume from a hesitant beginning to a forceful conclusion.

Jasper Somsen’s sonorous contrabass carries the melody in “Luiza,” while the piano provides the harmony before taking off on an independent flight, ending with the melody part. Katelijne van Otterloo sings the English lyrics of “Dindi” in a small, intimate voice. I’ve never been a fan of “Dindi,” but the interaction between singer and pianist is attractive.

The penultimate track, an interesting pairing of “Chora Coração” and “Piano na Mangueira,” with percussion by George Pelupessy, traverses the emotional and rhythmic range, beginning in a quiet morning and climbing to a batucada peak before descending to the sotto-voce finale that suggests the dawn after a wild night. From here it’s a natural transition to the closing track, a free-form treatment for “Tema para Ana.”

There’s a lot to like in Dualogy, none of it obvious or pat. Listen to excerpts.

Michiel Buursen: Dualogy
(Independent; 2008) 66 min.

01. Insensatez (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Vinicius de Moraes)
02. Gabriela (Antonio Carlos Jobim)
03. Por Causa de Você (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Dolores Duran)
04. Falando de Amor (Antonio Carlos Jobim)
05. Estrada do Sol (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Dolores Duran)
06. Caminhos Cruzados (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Newton Mendonça)
07. Luiza (Antonio Carlos Jobim)
08. Dindi (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Aloyisio de Oliveira/Ray Gilbert)
09. Chora Coração (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Vinicius de Moraes;
      Piano na Mangueira (Antonio Carlos Jobim/Chico Buarque)
10. Tema para Ana (Antonio Carlos Jobim)


Copyright © 2009 Daniella Thompson. All rights reserved.