Eyes Wide Open

Ad Colen Quartet

Sweet Briar Music, 2000


REVIEW BY: Tammy Childs


Coming out of the Netherlands, this frothy group performs the music of jazz musician Ad Colen, the band's namesake saxophone player and main songwriter, but that does not necessarily mean they are jazz-oriented.

But this CD is, as Colen realized the direction he wanted to move after touring for a year with "Up With People." He, along with Rob van Bavel on piano, Erik Robaard on double bass and Chris Strik on drums, create a jazz disc alternating between slower pieces that showcase their talent and frenetic faster pieces that are just a bit too frantic.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

"Massive Move" is dramatic and theatrical, expressively highlighting the horns, moving into a simplistic piano presentation and then ending with the horns again. "Moments" slows down the exuberant nature a bit and provides subtlety with romantic flair. Although still lively and with a generous amount of energy, the band gathers those fragmented pieces to form a cohesive picture.

"Bad Motha" made me think of a whole different genre than jazz, and I still can't figure out why Colen chose that name for this song. Is this supposed to be the hardcore side of jazz? Not likely, although the piano work is expressive and the drum work makes an excellent companion. Also noteworthy is the warm and syrupy "Sweet Briar," the best of the collection in that it proudly showcases the sax abilities of Colen. I prefer the softer choices like this, as this is where his true talent proves itself.

"Eyes Wide Open" is a frantic, frenzied number and not to my liking. The fragments are a bit too shattered, as they are in "Mind Twist." But I accept this as the nature of jazz and it doesn't diminish my feelings for the album as a whole.

Colen wants to have a conversation with his listeners and he believes in improvisation, a quality perfect for jazz. With jazz there is room for experimentation and movement, and he isn't afraid to approach either with fervor. Colen has said he makes music because he can't create art, but it is art that he creates on this CD, making a picture with the notes that is not unlike walking through an art gallery.

I have always found jazz to be somewhat exhausting -- trying to grasp at the loose notes and trying to connect the moving musical dots, so to speak, is tiring. But this CD is quite the opposite. It is animated and peppy but doesn't wear the listener down. Ad Colen's complicated, multi-level talent is what makes Eyes Wide Open fun.

Rating: B-

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© 2005 Tammy Childs and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Sweet Briar Music, and is used for informational purposes only.