Almost all the most interesting jazz around at the moment is coming from European players and here's a bunch playing in a free idiom with intelligence and good humour. The better known members of Play Station 6 are saxophonist/clarinettist Tobias Delius, cornetist Eric Boeren (who, on form, is as good as New Jersey's Herb Robertson) and percussionist Paul Lovens. But arguably the greatest energy is provided by violinist Maartje ten Hoorn, pianist Achim Kaufmann (whose 'preparations' create sounds akin to a detuned zither) and bassist Meinrad Kneer, who also figures on the other Evil Rabbit release reviewed below. Recorded in the Loft in Cologne, this is as wonky as an afternoon on skunk in an Amsterdam coffee house and as exhilarating as jet-skiing the canals.

Brian Morton, the Wire, august 2007




Somorostro / Glorie Van Holland / Misty / Unprepared / Alone / Outside Inside / Man With Scythe / Untitled / Mojo's Retreat / Bravos / The Black Box / Alive And Cooking / Forgiven. 54:40.

Maartje ten Hoorn, vln; Eric Boeren, cnt; Tobias Delius, cl, ts; Achim Kaufmann, p; Meinrad Kneer, b; Paul Lovens, d. 1/27/06, Cologne, German

Play Station 6 is a group of three Dutch players in the front line (Boeren, Delius, and ten Hoorn. . . Delius was actually born in the U.K but has lived in Holland for over 25 years) and three Germans in the rhythm section (Kaufmann, Kneer, and Lovens). There's been a lot of interchange between German and Dutch players since the first stirrings of European improvised music in the 1960s. Lovens, whose first recordings as a free improviser stem from around 1970, is one of the most distinctive stylists in the music and is one of the great texturalists among European Free Jazz drummers. Kaufmann is also a texturalist and he frequently can be found preparing the piano or working inside the instrument. I'm unfamiliar with Kneer but he has a nice big woody sound and his opening solo on "Alone" is a testament to a play­er who plays hard and with great facility. Ten Hoorn is an amazing violinist who's been heard way too little. She's also a player of great intensi­ty and her kinetic, swirling lines are one of the major features of this group's music. Boeren and Delius are closely associated with the New Dutch Swing players (with Available Jelly, IC.P. Orchestra, and Bergin's M.O.B.) but here show themselves to be equally adept at playing less extroverted styles of music.
The music on =#= 1 is true group music. No one is a dominant soloist and the spirit of com­munal music is maintained throughout. Upon lis­tening, the CD's statement that everything is improvised with no overdubs and no edits cer­tainly rings true, rendering the conclusions of some of these pieces all the more remarkable. Some are very concise: five are less than three minutes. It's difficult to get a duo or trio to be that concise, so it's all the more amazing that this sex­tet scores on that mark. The music spans the gamut of free improvisational strategies from full­bore group charges to subtile sound explorations to solos, duos and trios. Play Station 6 offers another side of the Dutch improvisational music and it's well worth checking out.

Robert lannapollo
Cadenze, september 2007




De meest abstracte cd van het kwartet eerstelingen is '#1' (ERR 03) van het sextet Play Station 6. De groep bestaat uit een 'Nederlands' en een Duits contingent. Cornettist Eric Boeren, rietblazer Tobias Delius en violiste Maartje ten Hoorn kennen elkaar uit diverse samenstellingen, maar de in Am­sterdam woonachtige pianist Achim Kaufmann en slagwerker Paul Lovens zijn voor de Nederlanders ook geen onbekenden. Bassist Kneer is hier de verbindende factor met de rest van het label. De onberispelijke opname, uit de Loft in Keulen (van vorig jaar januari), past in het idioom van de Europese improvisatiemuziek zoals die zich de afgelopen decennia heeft ontwikkeld. Ook weer los van Amerikaanse modellen dus, en absoluut niet jazzmatig. Geen ronkende freejazz en ga-maar-lekker-loos solo's dus, maar overdachte aaneenrij­gingen van muzikale ideeën. Er wordt goed naar elkaar ge­luisterd, en eenieder weet op tijd z'n instrument te laten verstommen, waardoor de collectieve improvisaties niet verzanden. Dat levert soms fluisterzachte resultaten op ('Un­prepared'), soms stuwende passages Alone'), en soms zelfs bijna liedjes, zoals 'Brava's', waarin Eric Boeren een door de bocht vliegend circusorkestje lijkt te leiden.
Wie meer informatie wil, of een bestelling wenst te plaatsen, kan terecht

Herman te Loo
11 februari 2007




tumultuous: i wouldn't know better how to define the music of this third release of evil rabbit. it's music which asks much from you and gives no discount, short minimalist interludes alternated to exhausting digressions in timbre, strident noisy drifts opposing excited frontal attacks, paranoiac and worrying fluttering gently sustained by evanescent plots with a chamber music taste.
all this without ever loosing, even in the more cerebral and expanded passages, the overpowering urge of expression and, as we were saying, the tumultuous dance of improvisation.
the sextet at work in the 13 tracks – and re-baptized play station 6 – shows more or less young protagonists of the creative dutch music scene. the leader is one of the founders of “cattivo coniglio = evil rabbit”: the double-bass player meinrad kneer, recently heard with the piano player albert van veenendal in the wonderful “predictable point of impact” and the more subdued “the munderkingen sessions”. at his side shine the clarinet and the tenor of a veteran as tobias delius (icp-member since years and outstanding musician in the ‘orange’ scene), the neurasthenic and disturbing violin of maartje ten hoorn, the edgy piano of the young achim kaufmann (already sparring partner of michael moore and frank gratkowski) and the darting cornet of the acrobatic eric boeren (often recruited in the formations of guus janssen, ab baars and marten altena). special guest is paul lovens who is capable as usual to let himself down brilliantly into the atmospheres created by the companions and to cut out percussive spaces full of fantasy, unpredictable, ironic and always to the point.
it is almost a duty to point out the exciting crescendo of “alone” (with a possessed and pyrotechnical delius), the caracoling stately walk of “majo’s retreat” and the free- flavoured sketch evoked with an unmistakable dutch spirit in “bravas”.
in conclusion, for who knows and appreciates the music imported from the land of tulips, there is much to have fun with, instead, for whom can’t really boast with these kind of acquaintances the risk is to be disappointed, excluded and burned.





Sammler und alle anderen leidenschaftlichen Menschen, bitt aufpassen! Ein neues Label verführt mit anspruchsvoller Musik, und diese wird in ausgetüftelten, raffiniert gemachten Digi-Hüllen unters Volk gebracht. Die Live-Improvisationen des Sextetts zögern die vorbereiteten musikalischen Lösungen geschickt hinaus. Boten werden ausgesandt (mal ist es die Geige von ten Hoorn, dann wieder Boerens Kornett oder die klagende Klarinette von Tobias Delius), um nach passenden Antworten zu suchen. Und sie kommen auch immer wieder zurück von ihren Ausflügen, mit einem Rücksack voller Ideen. Einfälle, die man dann zu einem gemeinsamen Stück verarbeitet. Schön, wenn man als Zuhörer ins Alchemistenkammer mitgenommen wird.

Freistil, Magazin für Musik und Umgebung, juli 2007




Play Station 6

(Evil Rabbit Records)

Of all the "genres" in music that I listen to, the one that's conventionally referred to as "improvised music" is maybe the one I think about more often. On one hand, the (quite large) number of different approaches, the (by now), on the average, excellent quality of what gets released, the (relative) user-friendliness of the final product, due to a better signal-to-noise ration on the part of the CD when compared to vinyl, the existence of "languages" (both personal and shared) that still sound fresh, all this makes for a very pleasant experience. On the other hand, though noisy (and ephemeral) phenomena occur from time to time, due to some element that's fashionable for a little while (here I'd say the laptop to be a good example from recent times), as a whole, the "genre" has never had a large audience (once in a while I think about whether the number of listeners is really that larger than the number of players); while the fact that more and more types of music, defeated by market forces, look for dignity (and funding!) in Festivals that are subsidized by public money has improvisers in a position of inferiority when compared to those who, though semi-poor, have a name that's well-known.
I happen to think about these matters, more so when I listen to a CD like the one released by the sextet called Play Station 6. Musicians who are for the most part well-known (details in a moment), whose approach to music here is in my opinion quite clear: it's not the "particles", the "grain", of sound that gets investigated here; instead, six instrumental approaches get combined to produce something that's original, though not of the "never-heard-before" type. Given their geographical origins (five Dutch, one German), and instrumentation (winds, strings, percussion), I think it's not impossible for readers to have a mental picture of how this music sounds. The album was recorded by Stefan Deistler in Cologne and mixed and mastered by Frank Van Der Weij in Amsterdam: it's a clear sound, which in my opinion greatly benefits from a bit more volume on the amplifier.
I'm not terribly familiar with Achim Kaufmann, here on piano, both in its straight and prepared guise, and Meinrad Kneer, on double bass. One of the founders of European Improvising, Paul Lovens developed his personal approach in a variety of situations, from large ensembles like the Globe Unity Orchestra to percussion dialogues with Paul Lytton. I listened for the first time to violin player Maartje ten Hoorn in the mid-80s, in groups led by Maarten Altena, and later in Misha Mengelberg's Instant Composers Pool Orchestra; I think she's nowadays quite well-known (check her nice CD for string quartet, titled Sparkles). Once they were "young guys on the scene", now they are solid realities that need no introduction: clarinet and saxophone (tenor) player Tobias Delius and cornet player Eric Boeren are the elements that more often here refer to "jazz" climates.
(A personal note: Though I heard Boeren for the first time more than twenty years ago, when he was part of an Altena-led line-up, though I tried very hard, I never managed to buy one of the albums where he was the leader, some of which were favourably reviewed in Down Beat and in The Penguin Guide To Jazz On CD. From what I understand, 4/5 of his CDs are sent, fresh off the presses, to the U.S.A., the rest being shipped to some shops in London. OK, guys - but what about us?)
The six players mix and match to perfection. Once in a while the jazz comes out - first track on the CD, the brief Somorrostro reminded me of the theme to Ornette's Free Jazz; a jazzy, and agitated, tenor is featured on Man With Scythe, along with piano and double bass; there is also jazz on the long Bravas, which starting from 4' has a development that's almost Free. Not surprisingly, there are often traces of "classical-sounding" climates, where sometimes Boeren's skillful muted cornet adds a nice "mismatch".
Nice tracks are Glorie Van Holland, in some ways a good summary of the whole album; Misty; the long Unprepared; Alone, with a nice opening for solo double bass and nice work on tenor; the concentrated Outside Inside; Majo's Retreat, with "African" percussion, and a nice "cool" clarinet: for this writer, this is maybe the best piece on the album, in some ways reminiscent of the best pages by Anthony Davis. But it's the whole album that's really good and - keeping in mind the aforementioned coordinates - quite accessible.
The cover alerted me to the fact that all pieces are "live improvisations, no overdubs, no edits", and I have no reason to doubt this. But all tracks, though "unpredictable", have a sense of shape and proportion that's quite prodigious. (What about The Black Box? Violin and clarinet, plus rhythm, start the piece, but then - at 1'15" - we have silence, and then piano, and cymbals, that had me pleasantly wondering about how this transition had occurred.)

Beppe Colli

© Beppe Colli 2007 | Apr. 1, 2007




de Groote Weiver
Eric Boeren, cornet  Maartje ten Hoorn, violin