"Chunks and shadows, keys – black and white, sonic fiction articulated, conceptual codes shifting, focus on fluffy statements, temporal dynamics - harshmellow, reaching for hope, answers to be questioned.”
Michiel Scheen (1963, Amsterdam), since the 1980’s, worked with many musicians throughout Europe, the USA and Canada. In 2012 he joined Raoul van der Weide (contrabass) and George Hadow (drums) in The Blue Lines Trio. The Blue Lines Sextet, with Ada Rave (saxophones), Bart Maris (trumpets) and Wolter Wierbos (trombone) regularly extend the line-up of this trio. Scheen also performs with the Jan Nijdam Quartet and as a duo with saxophonist and clarinettist Tobias Delius.
Scheen’s work has been described as: “Odd twists and sharp angles, post-Monk, post-Mengelberg even” (Frances Davis, The Village Voice, 2004).
released February 29, 2020
Recorded at Studio M, Almere
* On Clouds and sunny chunks:
"The modest size of the oevre of Michiel Scheen requires that every new addition must be grasped with both hands. Seventeen years after his last release, the pianist again comes up with a solo record. It once again shows his qualities.
His temporary sabatical from the music scene is now well behind us, but he's not exactly in the spotlight regurarily. Longer periods of silence are interrupted by occasional concerts and releases, including the Blue Lines Trio and its Sextet version. Somewhat applicable for an artist who lives in his own universe and has traveled an authentic course in his own modest way. A trajectory that yielded more than a gem, because - listening to it recently again - the CD Dance, My Dear (2004) of his Quartet for example, turned out to be a thoroughbred classic.
Between 1993 and 2003, Scheen also released a number of productions with mostly solo performances, Clouds And Sunny Chunks being the fifth in that series. Ten compact pieces, of which one improvisation and nine compositions. Some of them were recorded earlier, others are presented for the first time. The influence of Monk is obvious here and there, but Scheen also gives it its own twist, and each time succeeds in sharpening that famous angularity, while at another time fine-tuning it, with unpredictable sidings.
The opening track of the album, “Legs” winks right away to Monk's “Bluehawk” and then changes into a jerky flow with a dragging left hand that contrasts nicely with the playful, frivolous right. It is a gnarled dance with a wiggling charm. You will also hear it at the end of the album, where “Gratitude” functions as a musical hopscotch, with two hands performing a twirling dance together like an old time pop hit.
In between, Scheen explores diverse zones. For example, “The Dude's Weekend” is full of abrupt jumps and striking voids, a nervous piece that excels not so much in flow as in a series of short sprints that gush out. If there is any relationship at all, it is more about Mengelberg, whose influence on Dutch pianists is almost inevitable. The title track also contains a few powerful solid passages, with a dark edge, that is also present in the gloomy “Reliqwy”, which is more reminiscent of Mal Waldron.
"Idols" and "Groove" are longtime acquaintances, the former an expressive chunk of impatience that has already been tackled on Dance, My Dear and more recently by the Blue Lines line-ups, who also ventured into the latter. This gets a striking performance here, in which humming synth and piano form an abrasive, somewhat ominous union. With "A (w)hole in my (w)heart", Scheen then suddenly enters hymn-like atmospheres, a nice run-up to the lively "Gratitude", that closes the album.
Don't expect flaming acrobatics or crossover appeal. Fans will get their money's worth though. Scheen remains an underappreciated pianist who stands out time and time again and manages to use influences creatively, articulating carefully crafted ideas. His music is playful without becoming a game, has depth without drought and surprises with expressive ease, small nuances and quirky details. Maybe a musicians' musician, but still worth following or discovering."
Guy Peters @ enola.be
* On other solo work of Michiel Scheen
"The at the same time staccato and lyrical approach by one of the most authentic Dutch jazz pianists is heartwarming and intellectually challenging. His qualities come out even better in solo concerts."
Tim Sprangers (de Ruimte, Amsterdam) - on solo work of Scheen
"The nine compositions manoeuvre between Monk-ish bravoure and pointed lyricism, but the balance is perfect. Scheen is a master in creating space; he not only knows when to play which note, but also knows when to release it, and even when to skip it."
NRC daily newspaper - on "Sphere's works" (Filiaal 3)
"The balance between composition en improvisation and the diversity in composition-models is very well done. Scheen works with coincidence. How capricious his thoughts and music might be, it always got a certain logic and transparency. Scheen is a versatile musician with a strong identity."
JazzNU magazine - on "Contrapposto" (Filiaal 1)
"Most of the pieces are witty little musical puzzles but the erudition is not overbearing."
The Wire - on "Contrapposto" (Filiaal 1)