Thank you to a Dutch friend for drawing our attention to a review of Kairos 4tet’s recent CD Everything We Hold (Naim) in the Dutch newspaper Volkskrant.
The whole review in Dutch is here – it may be paywall-protected. These are the two opening paragraphs – (our translation). See comment below.
“Britain has been booming in the jazz universe for a while now. Salient fact: what has led it has been shameless flirting with pop music and other genres. Nothing is wrong with that in itself. Improvised music which stays within its boundaries doesn’t go anywhere. But stepping beyond the limits, does not ‘per se’ lead to open, independent music.
With Jamie Cullum seemingly the leader of the pack in recent years, bands such as Neil Cowley Trio (pop-rock), Portico Quartet (pop-minimal) have also been hovering, and also Kairos 4tet, now releasing its third album…..”
COMMENT: The music (WE’VE ALREADY REVIEWED) didn’t grab the reviewer at all – the rest of the review is pretty grumpy. However, what I find more interesting about the piece is how British jazz gets pigeon-holed and reduced to a few simple ciphers, evidently based on the small selection of bands which make it across the Straat von Dover and to reach Holland regularly.
By contrast, from this side of the water, and after every newsletter I send out, all I can see is that the variety and depth of the scene here are unencompassable .
Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised: the designer of the poster above must have felt that exciting events which might happen on the sea journey would be the main appeal of England and Scotland to the Dutch – rather than our bleak destination itself.
The observation I most often hear in Europe is that the UK jazz scene is “apart”, “self-contained”, in contrast with other scenes in Europe which get more exposure. Having said that, I always sense that there is genuine curiosity to be exposed to more of what we have.
Nobody is ever going to like all the jazz he or she hears, but Spranger’s generalizations about the revival in this country would seem, as the Dutch would say, to be ‘totaal mislukt’. I am sure he will be given good cause to re-consider….