Ugly is not a word one likes to apply to any form of music, yet it is hard to find a more apt adjective for the Willem Breuker Kollektief, an 11-piece band from the Netherlands that appeared Sunday at the Jazz Bakery.
The great popularity of this group in Europe since the 1970s is a mystery. Breuker, a saxophonist who writes the music, brings technical skill but little uncontrived emotion to the charts.
Some moments suggested an old-fashioned Sunday afternoon concert in the park, while others were closer to circus music. There were false starts and stops, switches in meter, and long ensemble passages eventually giving way to solos that were consistently uninspired.
The set, which became increasingly comedy-oriented, hit a low point when Breuker, on soprano saxophone, gave his impression of a quacking duck, a barking dog, a bumblebee and then of laying an egg--with an actual egg passed around among the musicians.
It got worse, with some whistling, a pseudo-comic operatic aria and two trombonists hugging one another while playing simultaneous duets. Seldom has a more dismal grab-bag of second-rate sounds and third-rate humor hit the local jazz scene. In short, this was no Dutch treat.