CD review

Joost Lijbaart – ‘Free’

Joost Lijbaart – Free
(Challenge Records CR 73519. CD Review by Rob Adams)

Dutch drummer Joost Lijbaart has spent much of the unexpected free time afforded by the COVID-19 pandemic fulfilling a long-held ambition, making a solo album on which he plays all the instruments.

It’s a form of painting with sounds in some ways, as gongs, bells, shakers and whistles create an impression of flora and fauna, but there’s also a spiritual aspect to the music. This is emphasised by the presence on several tracks of a harmonium, whose chords, drones and slowly unfolding melodic progressions lend a churchy quality and, in combination with gently tolling glockenspiel and simple vibraphone placements, produce a hymn-like shape to tracks such as Manhood and the appropriately valedictory closing title track.

Strangers from the Sky opens the album with distant bowed cymbals and gongs, gradually building in presence and intensity to give a sense of the vastness and the mystery of the universe before the well-named Velocity arrives with purposeful, rhythmical cymbal work punctuated by crisp snare drum cracks.

As happens in his ambient improvising trio, Under the Surface, which toured as part of the Jazz Promotion Network’s Going Dutch project, when Lijbaart opens up his kit like this he injects considerable urgency. If albums like this contained singles in the way that pop and rock ones do – or at least did in the great shifting units days – then Velocity might be the prime candidate.

Elsewhere, Half Moon conjures up images of African rituals, with its loping, and looping, balafon riff acting as a chant-like backdrop to dramatically beating toms. Twinkling Night suggests the presence of crickets in Lijbaart’s home studio. Dreamtime murmurs gently with quiet vibes and a simple glock melody, and Interstellar achieves lift-off with Lijbaart’s kit sparking up a superbly rhythmical shuffle.

LINKS: Free at Challenge Records
Joost Lijbaart’s website
Jazz-fun.de published an extensive interview about the recording of the album – in German

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