A “SOUND JOURNEY“
It is not often that one is lucky enough to directly observe the creation of unique beauty, perfect craftsmanship, absolute passion and profound dedication. I recently had the wonderful opportunity to experience these with the creation of “Lexposure”, in Cologne at the end of August 2020. This took place in the legendary, state-of-the-art “Riverside Studios”, under the auspices of the producer Ralf Kemper, who actively and artistically directed the entire technical recording at the mixing desk.
Thus it came about that the best technology and the best musical skills came together here at one of the most high profile studio locations in the world. With ingenious talents on all of these different levels, it was inevitable that something uniquely beautiful was created.
This production was led by the well known Dutch bandleader, pianist, arranger & composer Lex Jasper, and his trio features Vincent Koning on guitar and Frans van Geest on bass . All are masterful veteran musicians in their own right, and complement.
So well captured here in this recording, we find a very successful, high-endproduction of harmonically and melodically beautiful arrangements… Ballads, Bossa Nova and groovy, swinging arrangements of 15 original compositions, which all come together here to form a beautiful “high work of art“.
Jasper’s compositions and arrangements all have their own musical horizon, their own claim to timeless beauty and the guarantee and claim to taste and brilliance. You hear it in every note. Its unique sound belongs entirely to him. It runs like a red thread through all of the compositions and arrangements.
The entire flow of the recordings synthesizes into a magical sound journey – and the real “Lexposure”.
The first tune is the extremely swinging “Belle Epoque”, a 4/4 starter with a driving tempo and groove. It clearly shows that Lex Jasper is still very deeply committed to the classic swing tradition. You can distinctly hear elements of the Oscar Peterson Trio and other giants of jazz on this cut. Perfect in groove and with the right amount of swing…along with an authentic “Swag” as they say in America, which is so sorely absent from so many productions in today’s crowded CD market. Wonderfully inventive and creative playing is also at play here by guitarist Vincent Koning. He reminds me of guitarists like Herb Ellis, Kenny Burrell, Jimmy Rainey, and Barney Kessel.
Frans van Geest provides the unbelievably tight swinging underpinning… powerfully bridging rhythm and melody, which, especially in a band without a drummer, de facto holds everything together.
Lex Jasper shines playing on the sonically fantastic, legendary, large “D” – Steinway grand piano found at the Riverside Studios, at which many giants from the jazz and classical music world like: Lang Lang , Alan Broadbent, Ruslan Sirota, Fred Hersch, Tigran Hamasyan, or Severin von Eckardstein, have played and recorded their music. With Lex precise comping, very tasteful voicings and inventive melodies even without drums, the whole band demonstrates the power of rhythm and swing in their blood.
It was also such a pleasure to enjoy the solo grand piano with Lex, completely open without a lid, in the studio. Fireworks of merging and freely unfolding rich harmonics spilled from this „D“ grand piano, which was recorded, like the whole ensemble ,with the very best state of the art microphones.
Whether with dreamy ballads, light and easy Bossa Novas like “Happier Moments”, groovy fast swing charts like “Pedelex”, or the sweepy jazz waltz “Eccentric and Reclusive”, Lex opulently exploited the luxury of having a 21-member string ensemble of 12 Vlns, 4 Vlas, 4 Cellos, 1 Bass along with the band, creating a luxurious mix of harmony and melody.
The quiet dreamy and very personal composition; “As The Decade Passed”, a ballad full of intimate melody and a narrative story much in the style of Bill Evans, reflects a painful, emotional decade in the life of Lex Jasper, who could not play and perform after an accidentally long break of almost 15 years. “The Coming Years”, a dreamy ballad full of hope and dreaminess, the soaring, perfectly intoned lush sordino strings produce an incredibly beautiful depth, warmth and harmonic breadth.
In the swinging 4/4 “Mysterious Lady Walks In The Night”, “Wish I Had Known You Sanny” and “It Will Be Like It Used To Be” charts on the other hand, the strings have the necessary smoothness and lushness in movement in the lyrical, high discant range of the Violins…the flying element style à la Claus Ogerman in the background, but still remain unmistakably true to Lex and his original compositional vision.
Karl Lagerfeld once said very aptly about his fashion: “it is the texture of the fabric and the gesture of the mannequin that gives his fashion its expression“. So here too, we have added together, the texture and magic of strings with a harmonically coordinated trio…a perfect sound, a perfect frame, a texture which is without a doubt, a magical musical reverie in Lex Jasper’s hands. Lexposure – A real “Haute Couture”
I think most of us are discovering who this Lex Jasper monster really is. I thought I had an idea when I recorded with him in 1981, but I really didn’t. Lex, that hard-swinging jazz piano player, evolved into a musician whose artistry recognized no boundaries. He became a superb arranger, often writing for the Metropole Orchestra, among others. Need a top notch vocal accompanist? No problem. Call Lex. And now, a gift from Lex and his fantastic co-artists is presented to us.
Special mention needs to be made of the groove, the sound, the blend, the hook- up of this trio. It’s as lovely and swinging as you can ask for. Great bass playing by Frans van Geest! What a beautiful bass sound and relentless drive! Guitarist, Vincent Koning, is a major part of that intensity as well. His sound also blends perfectly with the bass and piano.
This album is gourmet ear food. For someone like me, who hasn’t heard from our Dutch hero for so long: Lex Is Back! It’s time to celebrate.
Welcome home, Lex. I’ve missed you. John Clayton, A fan
Special Thanks to:
Karel van Eerd, Bert van Geest, Lies Jasper-de Kan, Femmy & Bonne Holwerda, Jan Jaap van Os Exasun BV, Pasha Shcherbakov, Gerard Speld & Wim Zeegers
A&R Challenge Records by Marcel Landman
Recorded on 24-25 August 2020, Riverside Studio’s, Cologne Recorded by Ralf Kemper, Nick Benoy & Patrick Lemmens Mixed by Nick Benoy & Frans van Geest
Mastered by Nick Benoy
Studio production: Ralf Kemper Excecutive producer: Frans van Geest
Liner notes by Oliver Koelling & John Clayton Photography cover by René Keijzer Photography booklet by Vincent Koning Product coordination by Boudewijn Hagemans
Artwork by Juan Carlos Villarroel & Natasja Wallenburg