Many Dutch progressive-jazz musicians tend to inject dashes of humor into the grand scheme of things, evidenced by Talking Cows' witty and somewhat bawdy video on its website, also noted on the amusing album cover art. Yet, the quartet takes a no nonsense musical approach and cuts to the chase with vigorous intent. Vibrant and often multi-directional, they exude a persuasive small ensemble outlook with contiguous re-engineering processes and a brute force mode of execution.
Talking Cows engages a kaleidoscopic aura, depicted by cross-references to conventional or mainstream fare, shaded with nods to the freer side of matters. Led by tenor saxophonist Frans Vermeerssen's full-bodied tone, occasionally eliciting a Ben Webster-on-steroids sound, the quartet's blustery constitution tenders a wide-ranging scope. Offset by a classic ballad out of the Coleman Hawkins era titled "A Stroll For Gonso," where a dirge-like rhythmic pulse supports the saxophonist's singing notes and corpulent triple-tonguing breakouts, the band also uses swing and bop as primary vehicles.
The ensemble generally moves forward with a take no prisoners approach. With solid and largely memorable compositions, they generate in-the-pocket grooves tinted with funk amid an authoritative presence in concert with introspective segments, effective use of counterpoint, and intimate conversations. Topped off with brisk unison runs by Vermeerssen and pianist Robert Vermeulen via flirtatious mini-motifs, the heart of the matter pertains to a vastly entertaining mix of energetic arrangements, memorable riffs, and a diverse track lineup. Indeed, a very comprehensive showing that gains additional steam on repeated listens.