Wednesday, October 31, 2012

CD Review: Nadje Noorduis

Nadje Noordhuis
(Little Mystery)

Nadje Noordhuis utilizes a rich, warm tone on trumpet and, especially, flugelhorn. The Australian-born graduate of the Manhattan School of Music can play sparely and make a few notes count for a lot, as she does on the ballad "Big Footprint." She conjures a calm, soothing texture throughout the album, yet for much of her debut as a leader, Noordhuis doesn't let the music rise above that subdued feeling.

The eight tracks, all written by Noorduis, suggest soundtrack to a film with expansive scenery - vast grassy plains, ocean shores, mountainsides. But without the cinematic images to go with it tracks like "Water Crossing" which seems content to simply evoke about a scene without really developing on it. It's telling without showing and feels nice without really utilizing a melodic palette to start a little bit of a fire. Sara Caswell's violin acts as the second voice to Noorduis' trumpet, but it comes off as a little too sweet and polite.

A member of Darcy James Argue's Secret Society and the Diva Jazz Orchestra, Noorduis is clearly no young lion just learning the ropes. And there are buds of ideas here. "Le Hameau Omi" has a tango rhythm behind it. "Le Fin" heads in a straightahead jazz direction, although bassist Joe Martin and drummer Obed Calvaire are stuck in a slow, rather unsyncopated 4/4 which brings it down. "Mayfair" moves with a more of lively clip than most of the set, showing potential for her future endeavors. From here, she could go in any number of different directions, with an ECM-esque approach possibly being the best tact. Hopefully she'll stay away from the lure of electronics and ambiance.

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