Contrary to what has now become the usual practice, the album ‘Eyeopener’ by Klatwerk3 contains a comprehensive booklet. On reading through the booklet you will, of course, be maneuvered in a certain direction.
But anyone who can summon up the patience to listen to this remarkable album by pianist Boelo Klat without first reading the information will come in for some wonderful surprises. And come to the conclusion that the hitherto little known Boelo Klat is a musician who is not to be underestimated.
In any event, musicians - certainly those engaged in improvisational music - should exploit two qualities to the full: instinct and intuition. Intuition will be best suited – let’s keep to pianists for the moment – to classical performers. Indeed, they must keep to the score, but they are at liberty to put their own interpretation into the notes. Instinct, on the other hand, is something we would sooner ascribe to improvisational musicians: only at the moment, they touch a key do they decide which note will follow.
Of course, it could be that musicians use both instinct and intuition as implements. One man who is definitely gifted in that way is the pianist Boelo Klat from Groningen. His album Eyeopener is the direct outcome of what is going on in his head and is passed on to his hands. That is obviously not something unique; it’s what happens to any musician. But Boelo Klat has put his instinct at the service of his intuition and in so doing he has achieved remarkable results.
It follows that Eyeopener cannot be classified under a single heading. All sorts of music pass by light music, a march, melodious musings, harmonious intro’s, free improvisations and a lot of good stuff from modal jazz. But what’s more: you will hear it played as you would want it to be played. Boelo Klat is a kind of wizard, turning suggestions into reality. Who manages to create a make-believe world, offering insights you would not have thought possible. All of which has to do with the twin qualities instinct-intuition, which immerse the music in an air of casualness, as if the pianist has cast aside all the rules of music and is simply doing his own thing. And so defining his own playing, his own sequence, his own identity.
That is the way – in fact, the only way – to listen to Klat’s fifteen own pieces and arrangements on Eyeopener. Then those surprises I mentioned in the introduction will become apparent as a matter of course. The melting pot of impressions, of styles that Boelo Klat effortlessly handles and to which he gives voice, evoke a sense of parting. Of leaving behind all the good stuff you’ve heard before in your life, stuff that was squeezed into a straitjacket because ‘that’s how it should be done’. Boelo Klat has said goodbye to all that and therein lies the strength of this exceptional album.
In Ruud Vleij on contrabass and Ancel Klooster on drums and percussion, the leader-composer has found worthy teammates. They make Klatwerk3 into a solid and unique entity. One that simply has to play this music, music that you can’t leave to anyone else. That goes under the appropriate title of Eyeopener.
Then a word about the booklet. Nicely made, with poems to accompany the fifteen pieces. Impressions, as you might call them, that reveal some of the thoughts and ideas of Boelo Klat. Titles such as Walk Like Monk, Song for my Sister, Money and Ibrahim leave little to the imagination. In each there is something of Boelo Klat. That even goes for Moon River by Johnny Mercer and Henri Mancini, arranged by Klat and transformed from croon song to final episode of this remarkable cd Eyeopener.
If Klatwerk3 lived in America they would have become well known long ago because what the trio produces is absolutely world-class. It is a bit unruly, but also crystal clear with twists and turns and is melodious, thrilling and precisely good.
Klatwerk3 is the trio of pianist Boelo Klat, and Eye Opener is the fourth album of this remarkable trio and the first with bassist Ruud Vleij. The album was created thanks to crowdfunding, and it is also the best album that the trio has recorded so far, because Klat seems to get better with every album.
As a composer he is also extremely well underway again, with eleven sublime compositions, supplemented by two short pieces by drummer Ancel Klooster and double bassist Ruud Vley. The album starts and ends with a cover - the opener is an almost unrecognizable Piano Man by Billy Joel, the ending is the well-known Moon River. Klat knows how to completely manipulate both pieces, in a way that you can only listen to with admiration as a listener.
But it is not only those covers in which Klat and associates show that they are of international top class. Calling a song like New York sparkling, for example, would do it seriously - it is a composition that immediately settles in your memory (which incidentally applies to many more of Klat's compositions) and which immediately gives you a good mood. This has to do with that sparkling, but also with the smooth, smooth way of playing of Klat and his sublime accompanists, who everywhere find the perfect balance between tension, a light stubbornness and delicious melodies.
You could think of Walk like Monk as a tribute to pianist Thelonious Monk, but the piece is more cheerful and accessible than much of Monk's music, while at the same time it is just as ingeniously constructed. That is great, and it also indicates what makes Klatwerk3's music so attractive. We have heard someone say: “I don't really like this kind of jazz piano piano at all, but this is a lot of fun!”, And after listening twice: “I believe this is becoming one of my favorite albums! ”
Ingenious, intelligent, slightly unruly and always very exciting jazz, which is played smoothly and fluently and which you immediately suck, that is the music of Klatwerk3, and on Eye Opener you get no less than five quarters of an hour without even a weak moment. An absolute must!