FES (Flat Earth Society)

The Armstrong Mutations

Zonk! 008

Stefaan Blancke, trombone; Benjamin Boutreur, saxophone; David Bovee, guitar; Leanaar De Graeve, tuba; Anja Kowalski, vocals and keyboards; Pieter Lamotte, bass trombone; Bart Maris, trumpet; Michel Mast, saxes; Marc Meeuwissen, trombone; Eric Morel, saxes; Kristof Roseeuw, double bass; Peter Vandenberghe, keyboards; Danny Van Hoek, percussion; Luc Van Leishout, trumpet; Teun Verbruggen, percussion; Peter Vermeersch, clarinet; Wim Willaert, accordian and vocals; Tom Wouters, clarinet, xylophone and vocals

Fasten your seat belts for this one; can this be happening to the Master's work? This surely could not come from the USA, it has that European strangeness, the irreverent black humor, jungle inspired, inspirational, tap dancing, swinging, schmooze. At times they scrape and scratch their instruments to the point of destruction. Who could do such a thing? A bunch of Belgians! The Flat Earth Society; an admirable concept that you might well believe in by the end of the CD.

To be fair, they do not want us to laugh; they do worry about what Louis would think of it all. It is quite clear they love the man; it is just their way of expressing it. Whooping and hollering (but no tooting), they rampage through the master's work with innovation and salivating lust; bawdy, anarchic, with Latin or just plain swing, once you are off balance they sensitively lace it with love and respect. Take on board Anja Kowalski singing "Lucky Ol' Sun", the girl has it, a slight accent always hits the right spot; she sings "What A Wonderful World" with dutiful simplicity ­ a veiled scolding for the Master of the popular, perhaps? (These Belgians can be so deep.) This stuff takes some arranging - watch out for the tune within a tune - they have gone out of their way to be different and have managed it with some style. If you would like to hear thirteen Louis Armstrong tracks as you have never heard them before, this is for you. If he is listening, the man's smile will be even bigger than it ever was when he was with us.

by Ferdinand Maylin

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