(Edition Records. EDN1150. CD Review by Graham Spry)
Tineke Postma is a Dutch alto and soprano saxophonist of the highest calibre and her new album Freya is a truly excellent recording, sure to become a favourite of many jazz listeners this year. You can judge a jazz musician by the quality of the company she keeps and Tineke Postma has worked extensively with some of the very best, including Terri Lyne Carrington, Greg Osby and Geri Allen.
Freya is Postma’s seventh album, but is also an especially significant one. It is her first release since the well-received Sonic Halo recorded in 2014, but she hasn’t been idle in the intervening years during which she took time away from the studio to start a family. Although she has returned to the Netherlands from New York City where she lived for five years, she has invested time to study and play the creative, energetic and more free music coming from Chicago and New York at the moment.
The music does that magical thing associated with the best jazz of balancing focus and direction with freedom and improvisation. The record is described as lyrical, melodic, adventurous, groovy and emotional, and it is all of those things. And although the compositions are all her own, it is also a collaborative record with the inestimable Ralph Alessi (trumpet), Kris Davis (piano), Matthew Brewer (bass) and Dan Weiss (drums). Postma’s most recent music doesn’t usually feature a harmony instrument such as the piano, thereby forcing her to compose music with strong melodies that stand on their own, but she couldn’t resist inviting Kris Davis along for the session and the album is much the better for it.
One way in which motherhood has affected Tineke Postma is to better appreciate the role of women throughout history and this music is a celebration of that. The whole album, and title track Freya after the Nordic goddess of creation, love and fertility, and other strong and important women are commemorated by name on most of the tracks. This includes women of Ancient Greece on the songs Juno Lucina and Aspasia and Pericles, but also on Scáthach’s Isle of Skye, the eponymous legendary Scottish warrior woman. Another woman, celebrated in Geri’s Print, is the late Geri Allen, whose loss and musical influence is still greatly felt. Even those tracks which don’t explicitly mention women by name, such as Heart to Heart and In the Light of Reverence, fit very much into the general theme of female celebration.
The music on the album is focused and tight where each musician plays an equal part. In places the compositions remind me of Wayne Shorter, one of Postma’s key influences, but it is clear that she is a woman well able to stand on her own. There are two short improvisations with just Ralph Alessi’s trumpet and Postma’s soprano saxophone called Interlude #1 and Interlude #2. The track In the Light of Reverence is included on the CD but isn’t on the vinyl version. Although this is a shame for completists, the structure of the album lends itself very well to that of a two-sided record. The songs Parallax and Freya work well as a pair to begin and end the first side, while the two short improvisations act as bookends for the second side.
Edition Records are to be congratulated for having secured the opportunity to release Postma’s new album. It’s more than just an addition to Postma’s discography: it heralds a confident new approach and a fresh sound from the saxophonist that rewards the listener more with every subsequent hearing.
Freya is also available on vinyl or as a download
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