Benjamin Herman – Nostalgia Blitz
(Dox Amsterdam. Album review by Peter Slavid)
Dutch alto saxophonist Benjamin Herman‘s back catalogue of over 50 albums includes, amongst other things, some gypsy jazz, straight ahead jazz, his own band the new cool collective, punk jazz, and interpretations of Misha Mengelberg’s free jazz. He’s extremely well known in the Netherlands, performing constantly with his various small groups.
His new album Nostalgia Blitz is dedicated to the maverick alto saxophonists he admired in the 1980s, such as James Chance, Xero Slingsby and John Lurie. Those were all saxophonists he describes as being “with an attitude, ideas and energy”. All of them came with a certain fashion style, often with sharp suits, sometimes with rolled-up sleeves. None of them have retained much of a following in the 21st century, although Chance’s track “Melt Yourself Down” does live on through Pete Wareham’s band of that name. In any case it’s fairly clear that those were three of the strangest musicians to emerge in that era.
Press releases rarely do justice to new albums – they are usually far too pretentious – but the description of the album as “a mix of mutant disco, death jazz, and nihilistic nu-soul” is not a bad attempt – even if punk and nu-wave could or should be added to that list.
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Each track uses a different combination of musicians, usually in quartets or quintets, with Peter Peskens‘s bass prominent throughout. The album also includes one short poem as a tribute to the late Rotterdam poet Jules Deelder, spoken by punk poet John Cooper Clarke over a triple speed bass riff.
The tracks are mostly under three minutes and feature solid rocking riffs and a squealing sax with plenty of imaginative improvising. This evokes some nostalgia for those who remember that era. For anyone else, at only 32 minutes long, its great fun and definitely worth a listen.
Peter Slavid broadcasts a programme of European Jazz on mixcloud.com/ukjazz and various internet stations
Benjamin Herman – Saxophones, flute, synths, Shinpei Ruike – Trumpet, Ebba Åsman – Trombone
Mischa Zaat – Guitar, Oscar Jan Hoogland – Keyboards, guitar, Micah Graves, Alexander van Popta – Keyboards
Peter Peskens – Bass, Jimmi Hueting – Drums
And the voice of John Cooper Clarke
Nostalgia Blitz is released today Friday 20 October 2023