The VW Brothers, Muziek [Patois Records]
The Amsterdam-born 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.