In a day and age when it’s so easy for a musician or band to slip under the radar, particularly as they enter middle age, saxophonist Yuri Honing who turned 47 earlier this month although still massively young by most jazz yardsticks (!) was pre-Bad Plus one of the pace setters in terms of the new post-jazz movement.
That’s ‘post’ in the sense of Coltrane on the one hand, and post in the sense of ‘punk’ on the other.
A Generation X-er from the Netherlands, Honing emerged quietly at least internationally like so many Dutch jazz people at first, forming a trio, which in 1996 made waves with Star Tracks. In essence they took absurd songs by the likes of Abba and The Police and tore them up note by note much like The Bad Plus would do and still do.
Never too arch, but very knowing and ironic in a classic post-jazz way, Honing with bassist Tony Overwater and drummer Joost Lijbaart paved the way for a new cynical generation wishing to question complacent attitudes grown unwieldy by both the excesses of free jazz and the posturing of certain strands of jazz-rock.
It’s easy to make the link to more recent improvisers such as Pete Wareham of Acoustic Ladyland who would emerge a little later in the UK.
Honing and Lijbaart are still playing together, and on their latest release True, recorded in Berlin to be released on the Amsterdam-based Challenge Records on 17 September, are joined by pianist/harmonium player Wolfert Brederode – remember his fine quartet album Post Scriptum ECM put out quietly last year? – and bassist Ruben Samama.
Most of the songs on True are Honing’s own, apart from a cover of Will Gregory and Alison Goldfrapp’s ‘Paper Bag’; a tender take on Bowie’s ‘Bring Me The Disco King’ from his 2003 album Reality; and a new song ‘Nobody Knows’ by the bassist Samama.
Honing sounds infinitely more at ease here than the last time I heard him live with his band Wired Paradise in 2010 during the Cork Jazz Festival.
Tracks are ‘True’, ‘Paper Bag’, ‘End of Friedrichsheim’, ‘Borchardt’, ‘Paper Bag (reprise)’, ‘Bring Me The Disco King’, ‘Yasutani’, ‘Nobody Knows’ and ‘True (reprise)’.
Certainly not a long album it’s more than worth your while and has a brooding interior vision few albums these days get close to achieving.
Yuri Honing Quartet (pictured, above) plays the Pizza Express Jazz Club in London on 20 September. Photo: Jean-Boris Szymczak