The New Percussion Group of Amsterdam was formed by two percussionists of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra in 1980; Jan Pustjens and Niels Le Large with the initial aim of being able bring their new works to a younger audience. This disc entitled Go Between which was originally released in 1986 and has now been remastered, features legendary drummer Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson, Earthworks) as well as respected Japanese marimba player Keiko Abe. Although Bruford and Abe don't play together or even play on all four compositions (Bruford plays on "Go Between" while Abe is featured on "Marimba Spiritual"), the overall package as a whole makes for a very stimulating and engaging listening experience.
Bruford's contribution on the title track is the closest thing resembling jazz, as his deft polyrhythmic work behind the acoustic kit comes in stages, as he appears and reappears throughout the fifteen minute composition while three other musicians on xylophones, vibes and marimbas accompany him. The second track "Redbone" by contrast is played by five percussionists on wooden log drums and three peacock gongs. "Marimba Spiritual" is like a mini concert for a Japanese percussion orchestra and marimba, as the various movements highlight it's classical feel. Percussive elements such as temple blocks, shimi-daiko and o-daiko drums are all featured on this piece while Abe demonstrates why she is one of Japan's finest marimba players. The final composition "Maenaden" written by group member Peter Prommel, features three marimba players including Prommel, accompanied by touches of light percussion and acoustic drums, which balances out the overall piece very nicely.
To be honest I didn't know a lot about The New Percussion Group of Amsterdam or the various instruments they play prior to listening to this disc. However if you're like me in that regard then Go Between will serve as a fine introduction to these various forms of exotic percussion. Kudo's should go to Mr. Bruford's label Summerfold Records for getting this little gem of a recording back into the public eye after so long.
1) Go Between
3) Marimba Spiritual