There’s nothing like a good VW to get
the day going. In this case, “VW” is for the VW Brothers, drummer Paul and
bassist Marc van Wageningen.
After years of sharing their talents with a wide array of talents, from
Tower of Power to Sheila E., and from George Duke to Paquito D’Rivera, the
brothers now emerge with their first project as leaders Muziek on
Accompanying them is a variable lineup of horn players, pianists,
vocalists and string musicians. Among them are guitarist Ray Obiedo,
trombonist Wayne Wallace and Sheila E.
“Simone” has a Latin vibe, thanks to percussionist Michael Spiro. The song
also is flavored with a “Weather Report meets Yellowjackets” type of
fusion, largely due to the playing of the brothers, aided by the bass
clarinet of Harvey Wainapel and the keyboards of David K. Mathews.
That flavor is further enhanced by
Paul’s skills on the kit, playing an a realm popular among artists like
Peter Erskine, Steve Hass and William Kennedy, and Marc’s bass evoking
images of Jimmy Haslip or Mark Egan.
The cover of Miles Davis’ “Milestones” has multiple personalities. The
introduction is like a soundtrack to a stroll through the Serengeti. Then,
the song shifts into a straight jazz piece. Joe Cohen leads on alto
saxophone, with Mathews on piano. It’s an all-in effort, with all players
showcasing their skills regardless of who has the lead. The bass hums
during Marc’s middle solo.
Marco Pereira on acoustic guitar introduces “Benito,” a Brazilian ballad.
Claudia Villela offers the ethereal vocal. The ensemble is augmented by
the sounds of Chris Bleth on English horn and flute, Norbert Stachel on
flute and alto flute and a string synth. It all comes together, presenting
an image of a woman on the beach, serenading her lover.
With a nod to James Brown, Tower of Power vocalist Larry Braggs leads on
“You Guys Done Yet?” This straight funk piece, co-written by Marc with
Peter Michael Escovedo, features the latter on background vocals and
percussion. Obiedo delivers a soulful guitar solo. Mathews plays organ,
and a four-piece horn section contributes. Braggs shows a sense of humor
near the end of the piece, saying, “Next thing you know, the drummer be
trying to take the solo.”
The VW Brothers were born in Amsterdam, Holland, and have lived in the
United States for three decades (Paul in 1976, Marc in 1980). They’ve been
sidemen for many years, both being part of Wallace’s band. Paul has also
appeared on recent releases by Wallace, Bien, Bien!; Kristina,
Offshore Echoes; and Kat Parra & Sephardic Music Experience,