Composer and pianist Michiel Braam has largely remained under the radar here, but he's a big-time figure in Europe, where he has led the notable Bik Bent Braam band and several other groups.
His latest effort is the ensemble Hybrid 10tet, which makes its recording debut with On The Move, an album made up of songs inspired by the venues played by the band during a recent tour.
Braam is joined by drummer Dirk-Peter Kolsch and bassist Pieter Douma, his bandmates from the Wurli Trio. On The Move also features brass and string instrumentalists, a move that brings together musicians from three musical worlds -- a classical string quartet, improvising jazz horns, and, again, the rock-oriented Wurli Trio rhythm section.
The album is an avant tour de force. If the music had to be categorized, modern classical is a good option. The instrumentals are dark, yet exuberant.
The set kicks off with a quick spray of horns and then Braam's strong piano lines pound and slide over a pulsating beat that ebbs and flows through the seven-minute long "Three Grazing Arches." Individual horns come in to splash the number with color.
Hybrid 10tet is intent on keeping listeners guessing. Braam and the group explore elements of Latin jazz in "Cuba, North Rhine-Westphalia," but they quickly change things up on the following "The Indonesian Refuge," with the string quartet taking unexpected twist and turns, including a wild, tense exchange with the horns and the piano mid-way through the number.
The somber ballad "Pit Stop Ball Ad" is the most straight-forward number on the album, highlighted by Douma's fluid bass against the plaintive strings.
There are nine compositions on the album, with Braam having found inspiration in different ways and places along the band's recent travels. "Fat Centered Gravy" comes from the Sju Jazz Podium in Utrecht, Netherlands, and "Three Grazing Arches" is for the Orpheum Theater in Graz, Austria.
It's a journey worth joining for fans of modern classical compositions and avant-garde jazz.