Jasper Blom Quartet ‘Polyphony’ 2LP/2CD (Whirlwind Recordings) 5/5

‘Polyphony’ marks the fourth album from the Jasper Blom Quartet who now find themselves at home on the UK’s Whirlwind Recordings label. And for the London-based independent record label whose statement of intent is to “provide a platform for showcasing adventurous and visceral music that spans genres” and “is rooted in originality”, Whirlwind Recordings couldn’t have hoped for a better project to introduce the Jasper Blom Quartet as a part of their already staggering array of artists.

Danish saxophonist Jasper Blom once again assembles the tried, tested and trusted combination of musicians that comprise his quartet – Jesse van Ruller on guitar, Martijn Vink on drums and Frans van der Hoeven on double bass – a collective that has now been performing together for over twenty years with celebrated past releases ‘Statue of Liberty’ (2008), ‘Gravity’ (2012) and ‘Audacity’ (2015), all available through Mainland Recordings.

‘Polyphony’ displays the band at their absolute best. A double album capturing the quartet performing over two nights in 2018 at Amsterdam’s revered BIMHUIS venue, famed for housing over 300 concerts a year celebrating both local and international jazz musicians. As an added bonus, each set boasts the involvement of two guests resulting in exciting interplay throughout: Belgian trumpeter and composer Bert Joris contributes throughout disc 1; Joris with numerous releases to his name, most notably with his own quartet and with the Brussels Jazz Orchestra. While Joris has served as a long-time friend and collaborator to the Jasper Blom Quartet, disc 2 pairs the foursome with the comparatively new combination of German trombonist, Nils Wogram, current Whirlwind Recording artist and an artist who lays claim to more than twenty album releases as a bandleader.

The dynamic between the players on each set work incredibly well over the total of sixteen tracks as they glide through a range of styles, some inspired by fourteenth century Belgian composer Johannes Ciconia, while others dip into Jasper Blom Quartet like ‘Nancy in the Sky’ from their sophomore album ‘Gravity’ and ‘Least of Your Worries’ from the band’s debut ‘Statue of Liberty’.

Inducting fellow musicians into the fold for past Jasper Blom Quartet releases may not necessarily be a new technique – vocalists including Tuto Puoane, Ruben Hein and Lilian Vieira have previously featured on the quartet’s prior releases as has percussionist Bart Fermie but there’s something particularly special about the chemistry and dynamics formed between the quartet’s members when paired with Joris and Wogram that makes for compelling listening.

Imran Mirza