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The Thirteen Bar Blues

Luc Houtkamp

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Album Review

For those accustomed to Luc Houtkamp's intense freestyle improvisations, his group, pow3, might be off-putting or scintillatingly attractive, depending on perspective. Not that the saxophonist hasn't immersed himself in electronics before. But this one takes an entirely new direction, and in typical Houtkamp fashion it does something entirely different, applying radical computer technology to down-home blues. The closest thing might be some of the experiments of guitarist Eugene Chadbourne with his often silly lyrics and twisted pyrotechnics. pow3 is different in its greater focus on electronics and computer sounds, although some of the vocals sound like parodies. What is so much fun about it, though, is that you don't know what to expect next. There are ambient electronics, warped computer noises, old-time blues singing, and, of course, a dab (but too much more) of Houtkamp's avant-garde sax. There is also a John Zorn-like disregard for convention, so much so that an apt description might be Otis Redding on LSD. Sometimes, when you think you understand what is happening, Houtkamp's irreverence bursts through with, well, something from left field. Han Buhrs' gravelly ruminations about prisoners, cigarettes, and the travails of life, punctuated by static and pleasantly distorted, come across as something strangely dreamlike yet familiar, a worthy contradiction. There are times when it is somewhat thin and slightly puerile, but for the most part it's just plain fun — Holland-style, by way of south Texas.

Biography

Born: 1953 in The Hague, The Netherlands

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Born in 1953 in Den Haag, Netherlands, saxophonist, composer, and improviser Luc Houtkamp has worked with many renowned musicians and innovators around the world. Although essentially self-taught, Houtkamp did study in his hometown at the Vrije Academie in the early '70s. While there, he met many esteemed electronic composers such as Tony van Campen, Michel Waisvisz, and Gilius van Bergeijk, with whom he would later collaborate. Throughout the mid-70s, Houtkamp performed in various groups, including...
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The Thirteen Bar Blues, Luc Houtkamp
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