ODG136 : Ben Sluijs Quartet / Candy Century
What was written at the time:
"Barely 33 years old, saxophonist Ben Sluijs shows an astonishing maturity in the way he manages his musical career. Heir, like many current young talents, of a certain Coltranian tradition but also of Lee Konitz and cool jazz in general, Sluijs shows no desire to let himself be locked in any drawer with a label. He wants his music to be free and somewhat inaccessible, the product of an interior necessity somewhere halfway between a poetic reverie and perfect harmony. A state of grace that can only be reached when freed from physical and material contingencies. Suddenly, Ben Sluijs does not scatter and takes his time. Professional musician since the 90ties (he has played notably with Philip Catherine, Toots Thielemans, Michel Herr, Joe Lovano and Billy Hart), he recorded his first real compact (Food For Free) in May 1997. To do this, he placed himself at the head of a quartet of which he carefully chose the components above all for their capacity to understand, to integrate, to extend his music. By surrounding himself with Erik Vermeulen on piano, Piet Verbist on bass and Eric Thielemans on drums, the saxophonist has created a formidable springboard for the expression of his own ideas.
Two years later, he recorded this Candy Century again with the same team. And we are simply amazed at the beauty of the themes, the harmonies, the solos, which emerges from this music. While the album must have been meticulously crafted to be listened to in one piece, I can't help but give my preference to ballads, a genre in which Ben Sluijs particularly excels: After All Things Been Said, Every Now An Then and Pour Jacques, dedicated to the memory of Jacques Pelzer, are operations of lyrical seduction. More removed, Candy Century and Out Of The Garden are conducive to stunning variations, demonstrating the incredible path traveled by the leader in a few years. And to be convinced, just listen to the first part of New Life performed on saxophone solo: its inventive phrasing, its science of rhythm and its correct conception of space are exemplary. As for Zinaïda, a superb ballad with oriental accents reminiscent of Rabih Abou-Khalil's quartet, Ben Sluijs finds the flute there, an instrument already used with happiness on the title Daydreaming of the previous album. In total, this is music that is both intense and lovely, a perfect balance that evokes happiness and awakens hope for other beautiful works to come."
In the magazine Cadence, New York 12/2000
"Tenderness and muscularity are sublimely balanced in the form of a Belgian Quartet ostensibly fronted by Sluijs.The music quickly dispels the need for leadership distinction as these four men opperate as a fully integrated and egalitarian unit.... Sluijs and company has crafted an invigorating set imbued with a strong sense of artistry and direction and as a result it's easy to recommend their work."
Ben Sluijs: saxophone, flute
Erik Vermeulen: piano
Piet Verbist: bass
Eric Thielemans: drums
Originally released on the W.E.R.F. label as WERF019 in 2000.
Digital release on the 15th of January 2021.
1: After All Things Been Said
2: Candy Century
3: New Life 1
4: New Life 2 & 3
5: Out Of The Garden
7: Every Now And Then
8: Pour Jacques
And on Bandcamp: