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More Intriguing Music From Eric Vloeimans

07-20-2022 | By Rushton Paul | Issue 122

Eric Vloeimans' music-making has captured me. I admit it happily. His innovative, cheerful explorations are refreshing, fun, interesting, and challenging, all at a go. No ruts here, no plodding along roads well-traveled by others. Listening to one of his albums is like finding fresh horizons.

Oliver's Cinema, Eric Vloeimans, Tuur Florizoone, Jörg Brinkmann. Buzz, Northstar Recording 2013 (DXD) HERE

"I used to think the accordion was a horrible instrument. An ugly, kitschy sound and a repertoire to match, from commercial tripe and oompah to waltzes for the elderly and circus drollery. In short, music to be given a wide berth."

So begins Eric Vloeimans in his introduction to this album.

And I'm hooked. I never cared for accordions, either. Yet, this album is a collaboration of accordion, trumpet, and cello—and I've enjoyed it very much. So how did this come about?

Vloeimans continues to explain:

"Your taste buds change. It’s just like with buttermilk, olives and tomatoes. As a child you hated them, and now you find you enjoy the taste. After thorough education at the dinner table, by the way. Trying a little bit, time and again…

"During one of my musical wanderings I wound up in the Belgian town of Rijkevorsel. After a concert there I was having a pint at the bar, and in this lovely Belgian atmosphere the accordion question reared its head again. Was there no accordion player to be found in Belgium that would suit me? ‘But certainly’, the response was, ‘you want our Tuur, then!’ A CD of his was put on forthwith, and the wonderful improvisations by Tuur Florizoone enchanted me on the spot. An appointment with Tuur was quickly made. One phone call, and it was like meeting my brother. This was the beginning of a new duo, that by now can look back on a long series of successful concerts."

To this duo, now add a magnificent cello player who "knows his classics, plucks like a jazz virtuoso, bows like a prince, and doesn’t shy away from electronics either." And so, with the addition of cellist Jörg Brinkmann we have this album's trio whose first engagement together was an open air concert where they agreed to meet up. " Everyone brought their sheet music, we rehearsed right there for two hours, and then went on stage straight away—you can discover the greatest things when you’re put on the spot."

From this description you get the sense of the performers and what they do for us on this album. The mix of music is eclectic, the combination of instruments innovative, the overall experience like a live performance by highly skilled musicians in a give and take of ideas, with the sounds of their instruments weaving together, complementing each other, bringing out new textures and sounds. It’s a fascinating journey.

The album liner notes observe, "Although in the Low Countries the accordion is often still associated with corniness and banal hi-jinx, in other cultures it has been a fully respected instrument with a great expressive range for many years. Especially in the hands of a composer and improviser with imagination and taste, such as one of Belgium’s most beloved musicians, Tuur Florizoone. This has everything to do with his broad knowledge and interests, his charisma and tangible joy in performing, and his gift for touching the heart of the music as well as that of the listeners."

Well, he's made me a believer that the accordion can indeed be an enjoyable instrument. I've now evolved from my childhood dread of another evening with Lawrence Welk, whose shows my grandmother adored.

Yet, while Florizoone is a convincing advocate, I really think it has been his collaboration with the highly innovation Vloeimans that sealed the deal for me.

Oh, and why the album title Oliver's Cinema? Vloeimans says, simply enough, it is an anagram on his name.

Contributing greatly to my enjoyment of this album is the excellent recorded sound achieved once again by Bert van der Wolf of Northstar Recording. Bert's recording career extends back over thirty years, but this is one of his earlier recordings to which I've listened, dating from 2013. Most of Bert's recordings that I've listened to have been of classical music, and I've always been highly impressed by the very natural acoustic space he captures in these recordings.

I wasn't sure what to expect with Vloeimans' jazz/popular recordings. Well, all I can say is that Bert's recordings are now firmly ensconced in my bucket: "if Bert recorded it, just get it, you'll most likely enjoy the heck out of it."

Also take a look at Vloeimans' other album reviewed here: A Classical Ensemble with a Pop Mentality - Calefax Meets Eric Vloeimans

Photos courtesy of Bert van der Wolf and Northstar Recording.