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Album Review

This is Dutch saxophonist Dick De Graaf's third CD with his septet, and although he is little known in the States, he displays a knack for attractively original slightly left-of-center compositions with strong hooks. Using two horns (the other is trombonist Hans Sparla), a traditional rhythm section of bass, piano, and drums, plus electric guitar and violin, De Graaf carves snaky lines that never cross the border but instead highlight a quirky adventurousness. The unusual instrumentation adds immeasurably to the group sound. Michael Gustorff plays his violin like a horn, with delightfully refreshing solos. Contrariwise, Onno Kelk's guitar pumps up the volume with some nasty improvisations. Sparla's trombone sticks to the middle range, but his gruff tone and rough-edged style (with hints of Grachan Moncur III) contrast with De Graaf's more traditional sound on tenor and soprano. This largely fulfilling release should win a wider audience for De Graff's writing and leadership skills.

Heartbeat, Dick de Graaf Septet
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