The Belgium-based, "Jazz Halo" modern jazz label was founded five years ago and has already amassed a noteworthy catalogue, featuring respected artists such as bassist, Joelle Leandre and saxophonist, Oliver Lake while also highlighting the abilities of Belgian jazz musicians. Such is the case with this new release titled, Stones, which is a short story (included in booklet format) by writer, Emile Clemens, artfully set to music by alto saxophonist, Ben Sluijs and pianist, Erik Vermeulen.
Perhaps lesser known on our American shores, these musicians' sport relatively impressive resumes, performing with a variety of Euro-Jazz and multinational artists. Otherwise, Sluijs composed the majority of these pieces as the duo embarks upon an audibly scenic journey consisting of quaintly organized fabrics. Essentially, the artists' display a prodigious flair for melody throughout these ten works, as they project an atmospheric program brimming with lush phraseology, memorable themes and softly stated lyricism.Sluijs' breezy lines rekindles notions of the late Paul Desmond's "dry martini" sound, whereas Vermeulen possesses a delicate touch as the duo's refined elegance comes to the forefront. However, the men also turn the proceedings up a notch or two during some heated exchanges, although intriguingly melodic pieces such as, "Still" and others sum up what this very attractive outing is all about. Recommended. Glenn Astarita