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Leo Cuypers

Dutch pianist and composer Leo Cuypers is one of the numerous creative geniuses who rose to prominence in the avant-garde hothouse of late '60s and early '70s Europe, while remaining a relative unknown in the States and the rest of the world. A lifelong supporter of Dutch free jazz legend Willem Breuker as a member of Breuker's eponymous Kollektief, Cuypers has also emerged into the limelight to head his own groups on several occasions. In 1974, he gathered saxophonists Piet Norordijk, Hans Dulfer, and Breuker to record Live in Shaffy. Seven years later, he again recruited Breuker, along with renowned Dutch drummer Han Bennink and Breuker Kollektief bassist Arjen Garter, to record the delightful, ironic Heavy Days Are Here Again. It's a wonderfully energetic record full of musical allusions and practical jokes, featuring four talented imaginative players. The album's title (and its first track, "Happy Days") is indicative: a satiric play on the Reagan Republicans fondness for the Depression-era tune popularized in the '60s by Barbra Streisand, "Happy Days Are Here Again," which Cuypers and company saw as hypocrisy of the worst kind, given Reagan's policies' insensitivity to the less fortunate.