These two recent CDs give a strong picture of the breadth of Belgian percussionist Tuen Verbruggen’s playing, showcasing a duo in studio and a live performance as part of a sextet.
Verbruggen’s duet with the Norwegian trumpeter Arve Henriksen was done completely through correspondence. Verbruggen recorded a series of tracks of drums and percussion and sent them to Henriksen, who then collaged them with his own playing, either on trumpet, voice or his own electronics. Verbruggen’s tracks are a clever challenge, with skittering beats forming spider webs of sound that Henriksen deftly transforms. Henriksen is a unique voice in jazz, and Verbruggen’s collaboration beautifully showcases both talents, creating a lovely project despite the distance between them.
In contrast, The Bureau of Atomic Tourism is all about physical encounter. Recorded live in 2011, the performance brings Verbruggen together with saxophonist Andrew d’Angelo, trumpeter Nate Wooley, guitarist Marc Ducret, keyboardist Jozef Durmoulin, and bassist Trevor Dunn. They start out screaming, and don’t stop. The muscular sextet propels itself through four tight compositions by d’Angelo, and three equally sharp improvisations. Verbruggen’s driving percussion gives the others free reign to fly, harnessing their solos and ensemble playing to the propulsion of his beat. The results are high-fusion overdrive, with great interplay and the type of stop-start dynamics that create whiplash in live audiences.