Per Henrik Wallin is a remarkable pianist, and listening to his trio in this concert performance is a memorable experience. Wallin, paralyzed from the waist down by an accident in 1988, can no longer use the pedals while playing but has compensated so well by altering his touch that one scarcely notices the shortcoming (if indeed it can even be looked upon as that). Wallin’s unaccompanied paraphrase of “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was” (renamed simply “What Time”) is absolutely breathtaking, and calls to mind another physically impaired giant, the late Michel Petrucciani. Wallin is no less inspired elsewhere, and the inclusion of five songs by Thelonious Monk and another by Bud Powell furnishes conclusive evidence of his basic frame of reference. Those bop icons were among his earliest influences, and after flirting for a time with Cecil Taylor–inspired “free Jazz” before his accident, Wallin has returned to his roots, positioning himself on the spectrum somewhere between Monk and Powell (albeit with more overt allusions to the former). With his hands undamaged he remains the technically brilliant player he always was, counterbalancing his paralysis with a greater emphasis on rhythmic awareness and less on digital flamboyance. In 1998, transcending the accident and other illnesses that had sidelined him, Wallin made his first public appearance and trio recording in eight years. The concert documented here was held in Copenhagen on September 9, 1999, which lends the album its unusual name. Wallin’s companions, bassist Peter Janson and drummer Leif Wennerström, are first–rate (Janson has a number of admirable solos, especially on Monk’s ”We Three”), but their role is largely supportive as Wallin keeps one’s ears attuned to his bold and dynamic declamations. This would be an impressive trio recording under any circumstances; under these it’s no less than phenomenal.
Contact:Stunt Records, 29 W. Maple Avenue, Bellmawr, NJ 08031 (phone 856–931–6441; fax 856–931–6445. www.sundance.dk