Fri, Jun 12, 2009 - Page 14 News List

Time to groove

By David Chen

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Like many a jazz musician, bassist Martijn Vanbuel is preoccupied with time. Meter and groove were foremost on his mind when talking about an upcoming gig on Sunday at Franz and Friends with his trio, Orbit Folks.

“A lot of this band’s music is in strange meters ... six, seven, nine, eleven,” he said on the phone after a rehearsal earlier this week. “I think it’s interesting because an odd meter is a total new world, like a liberation from the limits of 4/4. It has a different feel to it.”

But don’t let exotic time signatures scare you. Much of the group’s repertoire is folk music from around the world; traditional Greek, Jewish and Bulgarian songs figure prominently in Sunday’s set.

Orbit Folks, which was born out of Vanbuel’s previous project Free Breathing World, will also play a song from Xinjiang, as well as a few compositions by avant-garde jazz composer and bassist Dave Holland.

Vanbuel, a 29-year-old expat who’s lived in Taiwan since 2006, says he was inspired to start the band by

a fondness for the folk music he often heard in his

native Belgium.

While he studied jazz formally at conservatories in Belgium and France, Vanbuel greatly admires musicians like Tunisian oud player Anwar Braham, and he adapted Braham’s music for the double bass.

Vanbuel’s ongoing tenure as bassist for Sizhukong (絲竹空), a Taiwanese group that mixes Chinese music and jazz, fortifies his world music leanings.

It was at a past Sizhukong performance that he met Janelle Chang (張宜蓁), a classically trained musician, who plays violin for the trio.

Chang is interested in Central Asian music and plays the satar (薩塔琴), a traditional Uigur instrument. Rounding out the trio is Toshihiro Wakaike, aka Waka, who has studied Indian percussion for more than 20 years and plays the tabla.

PERFORMANCE NOTES:

WHAT: Orbit Folks jazz trio at Franz and Friends (城市舞台藝文沙龍)

WHERE: Franz and Friends (城市舞台藝文沙龍), 25, Bade Rd Sec 3, Taipei City (台北市八德路三段25號B1). Call (02) 2579-0558 for reservations or visit www.franzandfriends.com.tw for more information

WHEN: Sunday at 3pm

ADMISSION: NT$400, includes one drink


Even though many of the numbers are either slow or have unusual rhythms, Vanbuel says he always imagines people dancing to the music. “I need to think of that when I play,” he said, for the groove’s sake.

The trio’s concert, however, will be a sit-down affair. Groove is “really important” in the Orbit Folks’ music, but it’s best enjoyed by listening, said Vanbuel.

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