Circles in a Square Society – on tour
“And there we were, half way at a festival, where…. David Liebman in the company of
French Andy Emler Trio was probably a kick, as well as Boi Akih, Dutch trio with Monica Akihary as magnificent vocals”.
Vossa Jazz (NO)
“Those who had expected the standard jazz was probably somewhat surprised at Boi Akih started opening number. The voice of Monica Akihary is anything but dull. She is like a musical chameleon. It is seldom one sees a voice being twisted and contorted in so many directions and gives a so varied expressions that Akihary showed us tonight. Ordinarily the band consists of Akihary and her guitarist husband Niels Brouwer, but tonight they brought Vasco Trilla on drums and Wolter Wierbos on trombone. This composition was artistic!
Music miraculously expression between folk, contemporary and surprising improvisation with roots from around the world. It was intense, challenging, insistent, noisy, pulsating, rough – all at once. In the subtle interpretation of Crosby and Nash ‘s Guinnevere mood took a new direction. Here began the expression of the known and safe, before a rebuilt and modified structure until they received new life. The musical ceiling was high in the full set Festsalen this Saturday evening”.
“When the TD Ottawa Jazz Festival announced its lineup in late winter I dubbed it the Year of the Voice because of the number of highly distinctive singers who were featured: Willie Nelson, Mavis Staples, Aretha Franklin (who since cancelled), David Byrne, and Patricia Barber among them.
I hadn’t counted on discovering Monica Akihary, a Dutch vocalist of Austral-Asian heritage. Co-leading the quartet Boi Akih with guitarist Niels Brouwer, she covers a wide range, from soulful crooning on Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” to hyper-glottal wordless improvisation. Even better, her rich vocals are mirrored by the expressive playing of trombonist Wolter Wierbos, who delivered some memorable work on two Jimi Hendrix compositions: “Drifting” and a radically deconstructed “The Wind Cries Mary.” Even though some of the band’s equipment didn’t arrive until midway through its performance, Akihary maintained the flow of the set and its sense of focused surprise”.
The Georgia Straight-Alex Varty (CA)
At Performance Works on Sunday (June 23), “Old Man” was the Neil Young song that made an unlikely appearance during the second of two sets by the Dutch quartet Boi Akih. But then this whole band’s an unlikely creature, blending as it does psychedelic music, free improvisation, and singer-songwriter folk. With trombonist WolterWierbos providing an unearthly second voice and guitarist Niels Brouwer alternating between delicate acoustic fingerpicking and scratchy electric skronk, singer Monica Akihary was free to emote so wildly that she sometimes resembled a feral Norah Jones.Meanwhile, drummer Owen Hart Jr. was a surprise to everyone, including himself. A last-minute replacement for the band’s regular percussionist, Hart sounded like he’d been with the band since its inception, especially on gorgeous and radically reworked versions of the Jimi Hendrix tunes “Drifting” and “1983… (A Merman I Should Turn to Be)”. Jazz and rock have rarely come together in such pleasingly idiosyncratic style…”
London Jazz News (UK)
“Boi Akih, based around the singer Monica Akihary, does an alternative take on a number of bluesier numbers, including Hendrix and David Crosby. Her guitarist Niels Brouwer has a fascinating guitar including sympathetically-resonant strings. Yado Gibson, a saxophonist who was for some time part of the London Improvisers Orchestra circle, provided some striking interplay on saxophones. In attitude, rather than in particular sound, I was reminded of Christine Tobin’s work – arrangements that they make you reassess and give you a version which matches and even, at times, exceeds the originals”.
“On their earlier albums, this duo have done beautiful songs with a mix of Indonesian traditional music and European jazz. No doubt that the two of them have rare qualities as musicians. On “Circles in a Square Society” they do a handful of tunes by Brouwer that pleases the ear. However, it is the ´Standards´ that are really exceptional. When… Akihary can be heard- clear and pure, it is simply superb”.
“Duo ‘Boi Akih’ created a magical hour of pure acoustic music based on a fascinating tapestry of folk music, contemporary sounds and improvisation. Through a movingly pure musical journey we experienced all the essential elements of being human”.
“Boi Akih gave an earthy concert, alive and vibrating, complex and calming. You feel that the artists bring out the best in each other; it’s tangible, almost materialized”.
All About Jazz
“This is trio in total control of it’s musical environment and it’s strength lies in the musical empathy between the three musicians”.
Jakarta Post (RI)
“Moluccan Princess and her merry men enchant
The barefoot Akihary, clad in a flowing dress, immediately beguiled the audience in Indonesian before opening the show with a soulful Harukan number. She used her voice as an instrument, smoothly traveling from husky tones to notes of dazzling clarity, chasing her sounds with her hands, as if to extend her range even further”.