The VW Brothers, Muziek [Patois Records]
Van Wageningen brothers
have been tearing it
up as sidemen since the ’80s—Paul as an L.A.
drummer, and bassist Marc Van Wageningen as a Bay Area
badass with everyone from Sheila E. to Tower
of Power. Their long-anticipated debut more
than delivers, clocking in as one of the year’s
best contempo jazz-fuze efforts. Marc contributes
nine of the eleven tracks, with writing
that seamlessly weaves a cross-section of
styles into nuanced, focused compositions.
His bass playing is similarly infused and intricately
shaded. The opener, “Simone,” draws
equally from Weather Report and the Yellowjackets,
while the undulating “Moon Over
Gate 24” adds some Gotham edge to that
same mix. “Zapatos de Madera,”—with it’s torturous
“Punk Jazz”-like bass-keys-unison
opening—and the “Giant Steps”-nodding “El
Abogado” simmer with authentic Salsa seasonings.
Elsewhere, “You Guys Done Yet?”
oozes a thick coat of East Bay grease, from
the Bari-led horns to Marc’s ghosted-16th
groove. Conversely, his fretless sings out via
the broad ballads “Benito” and “Euro.” On
the cover side, “Milestones” is reimagined in
three, while “What Are You Doing the Rest
of Your Life?” rides Marc’s Gary Willis-style
phunky palm-muted ostinato, punctuated by
Paul’s sidestick pulse. No beetle juice here,
the VW Brothers are Cadillac all the way.