Pramisi Records/Munich  Records, Germany 

A Dutch seven-piece which are very conversant with a dizzying number of African and Latin musical styles (including Surinamese winti, kaseko and kawina), at first I had to wonder where the Dutch influence was.  The answer arrived after I had been waiting around... secondary themes leap out of the easy-rolling waves of percussion (courtesy of Carlo Ulrich Hoop and Guno Kramer), very through-composed and smacking somewhat of the late 19th-century impressionists (imagine Debussy in a Hawaiian shirt), tuneful and sinuous as are the tonal movements in "Nuages," for example.  These look-ins are brief but eye-popping; one jumps up twice in the opening "Franca Lucia," a lithe Afro-Cuban workout.  Guitarist Andro Biswane transports us to Mali next with an intricately-picked latticeover which the fine horn section sweeps and whirrs.  Very reminiscent of some of the other west-of-the-Sahara artists I've come across, like Habib Koite and Bamada.  Leader and bassist Vincent Henar, a former resident of Dutch Guyana (what they now call Suriname), a bit undermiked, is more of a team player - so that may be deliberate - but that's well enough since his soloists are all top-notch: Efraim Trujillo's tenor has a grooving Paul Gonsalves feel (note his break on the deliberate, bouncy "Family Meetings"), Mike Simon's trumpet spare and sure, and Robin van Geerke's limber piano the most Jazz-centric contribution here.  Henar also writes some heavily ethnic, driving bits, such as the opening conga-rific vocal intro for "Para United."  Which strangely downshifts into a moody horn-heavy instrumental more impressionistic than explosive.  Still works, though. 

Other cheery bits include the opening to "Nights in Dzaoudzi," which begins with Simon's open horn manipulating mellow space against van Geerke's fills and ostinatos.  Let loose in the middle break, van Geerke recalls Joachim Kuhn in a reticent mood, trilling but circumspect.  I suppose 'kultiplex' is a combination of 'culture' and 'complex'; yes, many gates open and shut within this CD but the mix is fertile and joyful.  They do shut, but not to keep anything out.  Well done! 

by Kenneth Egbert

New Sounds - December 2003/January 2004 CD Reviews