Ben van Dijk's unique style glows throughout this recording. The combination of Ben, his Thein bass trombone and the "van Maarschalkerweerd" organ, played in a transparent and beautifully registered way, by Henry le Comte, is a wonderful combination. Every track reflects Ben's warmth, friendliness and musicianship even more than his previous recordings.
The idea for this recording came from Henri le Comte. Henri is solo-clarinettist of Ben van Dijk's orchestra, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. De Graaf had made a similar recording on clarinet with piano, called "Gradagio". After hearing Ben, de Graaf suggested making this CD with organ accompaniment.
While the familiar music is predominant, Ben's musical interpretations have a sense of pulse that gives each piece a feeling of cohesion and flow.
Although the music is mostly melodic and not technical in nature, Ben's interpretations demonstrate his complete mastery of the bass trombone with his fluid transitions from range to range and style to style, keeping a quality of tone and technique that is unparalleled. Often it is almost imperceptible when he slips from octave to octave. His tasteful use of over four octaves in this recording is inspiring.
These recordings were made in two evenings without any electronic "soaping up" or tweaking, and are intended to sound as if the listener is sitting in a resonant room, just a few feet in front of Ben.
This recording is a most valuable learning tool in today's world of virtuosic, technical music where so often melodies are not perceived to be as important as technical passages. This recording is of particular interest anyone interested in solo playing and developing their musicianship. It is a must for all trombonists and brass players and is truly a joy to listen to.
By Newell Sheridan
In recent years the world has been hearing a lot of really classy trombone playing coming from the Netherlands, with new stars like Jorgen van Rijen, Brandt Attema and Ivan Meylemans. But the Rotterdam Phil's bass trombonist, Ben van Dijk, has been a Dutch beacon of quality playing for many years now, and won him the International Trombone Association's 2003 Award in recognition.
Now 50 years old, Ben's maturity is evident and his sound is something to really savour. This is somewhat captured in two solo CDs released in 2000 and 2003, and my personal favourite are two Bruckner motets he records with the New York Philharmonic trombones. The sound, the blend, the thoughtful phrasing and nuance all abound in this simple music and show Ben at his best. So when Ben announced he was recording a CD simply with popular classical melodies, I was keen to hear the results.
I was not disappointed - in "Melody", Ben picks a selection of opera arias, folk songs, orchestral favourites and instrumental classics which are charmingly performed. It's not intellectual, or epic, or musically definitive, or technically difficult. The bass trombone and organ seem very close and comforting to the listener, so that you forget about all those things and simply let the sound reassure you, like drinking a warm cup of Green and Blacks.
They say that the mark of a great player is that the simplest things sound amazing. And this CD proves just that - Ben's notes are always cleanly produced, often colouring the tone with a beautiful singing vibrato and phrased delicately. Although with this sort of release there is a danger of similarity and over-dosing on sweetness, Ben sensibly avoids over indulgence and none of the tunes end with a big rallentando that an ego-mad opera star might.
For the trombonist that is used to collecting great performances of major repertoire, let this CD be an inspiration to place a simple tune in your recital programme and to find the expression to captivate your audience in this original way.
But I think just as importantly this disc can speak to a much wider public than the average serious trombone CD - I know my Granny will love hearing it too!
David Read on HotBrass