"Cadence" (USA), March 2002 CD Stones – Jazz’halo TS010 (duo Sluijs-Vermeulen)

Cross-pollinations between musical and literary worlds are nothing new in the larger universe of art, but such bridges are perhaps less common occurrences than they should be considering the role of improvisation and composition in each creative sphere. Sluijs and Vermeulen , aided and abetted by author Emile Clemens, add their efforts to a reservoir of such works on this project. Clemens' titular tale, conveyed in the form of transcribed conversation, is included in its entirety in the booklet that accompanies the disc along with photographs of the etchings and carvings that in turn inspired his words. There's an underscoring sadness to Sluijs' tone on alto that meshes beautifully with his feathery, raspfringed phrasing style reminiscent of Konitz, but at once very different in the regular use of elongated notes. Vermeulen, Sluijs' friend and frequent musical partner, matches the saxophonist's subdued delivery, filling in the chordal crevices around the horn's spacious phrases. Showing off a further experimental bent, Sluijs uses the percussive properties of the keys of his horn to engrossing effect on 'Mother of Pearl', tapping out a rhythmic cadence of hollow sounds. The airy expansiveness of the pair's duets recalls the audio openness often associated with the ECM sound and there are sections, such as on the terse title track, where traces of a phantom echo invade the edges of their repartee. Both players make the most of the room, but at times their discussions flirt too liberally with the spectre of introspection. Clemens' words make a fine complement to the music and the fact that both facets of the project work well in tandem and isolation speaks volumes to the overall success of the date. 

Derek Taylor