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Starbound by Robin Verheyen

The young Belgian saxophonist Robin Verheyen makes a strong debut with Starbound, a flowing quartet exploration highlighting the New York resident's open-ended approach to composition. With a strong emphasis on soprano saxophone, Verheyen weaves intricate themes into flowing solo lines, bustling when needed, and at times brilliantly sparse. This no-wasted-notes approach is eloquently exhibited on buoyant tunes such as "Boechout" and the boppish title track, as well as on slower works like "Tree Line" and the standard "I Wish I Knew."

The call-and-response feel of the melody to "Roscopaje" spills over into the wide-open solo section with an interesting back and forth from Verheyen and pianist Bill Carrothers who is intuitive throughout the program. With ideas that seem to be pulled out of thin air, Carrothers takes charge on the opening "On the House" and the Monkish "Long Island City," with a full-fisted rhythmic charge. Thick-toned Bassist Nicolas Thys, who takes on an insightfully playful role, introduces the lengthy "Lamenting," a suggestively dark piece featuring Verheyen on tenor. Here, drummer Dre Pallemaerts provides illumination with a multi-colored backdrop.

A well-balanced set that unfolds with an openness to spontaneity and joy, Starbound is an impressive introduction to a unique voice. Verheyen brings a fresh, ensemble-driven approach to contemporary jazz.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Robin Verheyen
  • CD Title: Starbound
  • Genre: Progressive
  • Year Released: 2009
  • Record Label: Pirouet
  • Musicians: Robin Verheyen (soprano & tenor saxophones), Bill Carrothers (piano), Nicolas Thys (bass), Dre Pallemaerts (drums)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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