Inventing Jazz (choir project)

2007 Inventing jazz concert review (eng)

'Landed between jazz and sheet music'

'Inventing Jazz', Ineke van Doorn (vocals) and Marc van Vugt (guitar) in a combined performance with the Dutch Chamber Choir, 2/3, the Muziekgebouw music venue at the ‘IJ’ in Amsterdam. 11/4 10 pm on the Dutch concert channel ‘Concertzender’. By Armand Serpenti

Either by giving their characteristic interpretation of standards or by amalgamation of different musical expressions, jazz as a conception is reinvented time after time. 'Inventing jazz' was adequately chosen for the title of the joint performance of the classically oriented Dutch Chamber Choir (Nederlands Kamerkoor, NKK), jazz singer Ineke van Doorn and her partner in music guitarist Marc van Vugt.

The meeting was characterised by van Doorn's swinging vocal colours and improvisations to fit her own words; lyrical melodies were born to reverberate in our heads for the rest of the night. With this, van Vugt guitar play was generally plain yet expressively rhythmic. Consequently a rather comfortable surrounding was created for the choir members, who nevertheless appeared to be paying too much attention to each other.

Unfortunately this was especially the case in what van Doorn calls 'musical jigsaws’, so called 'circle songs' consisting of short motives that the singers could freely tie together. What could have been a perfect vehicle for group improvisation was actually falling short, in spite of van Vugt’s excellent arrangements (in one word: sublime!). Passages that required total disposition from the choir sometimes seemed to have the handbrake on. Such was the case in 'Blues for a voice', a harmonic and courageous piece in which the NKK presented itself as a gospel choir, however, highs and depths were far off of how we appreciate the black tradition.

It wouldn’t be fair to state that the NKK should stick to their classical music tradition (after all, they have done a program with pieces from Burt Bacharach) and that van Doorn and van Vugt should be loyal to uniquely jazz (since they already have attributed to so many original crossovers).

This performance was definitely an admirable and fascinating attempt to explore boundaries; between improvisation and composition, and between the potential of highly experienced jazz musicians and vocalists, who are more comfortable with sheet music and conductor guidance. However, fantasy, technical skill and willpower to make the most of both worlds combined, are simply no guarantee for what lacked most in this performance: primal emotional impact.

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