Guitarist Torben Waldorff really knows how to put a band together. The first impression on hearing his previous effort, Brilliance (ArtistShare, 2007), was that his group had a great collective sound. There was a lot of fine soloing, to be surefrom saxophonist Donny McCaslin and Waldorffbut it was the group atmosphere, simmering and always a bit understated, that was the game plan.
On Afterburn Waldorff assembles the same quartet, with an inspired addition: keyboardist Sam Yahel, who plays piano, Fender Rhodes and organ, fleshing out the Waldorff sound.
Despite Brilliance being a live recording at New York's 55 Bar, Afterburn has a more lively feeling to it. McCaslin, who seems to find a remarkable amount of sideman work, is out front, again sharing solo turns with Waldorff.
The very in-demand McCaslin has been with the Maria Schneider Orchestra since its inception, and Waldorff's group takes on the composer/bandleader's "Choro Dancado" here, turning the tune into a study of subtle small group interplay, with Yahel's organ weaving soft whisperings behind McCaslin and Waldorff's tight lines.
The different colors and textures slipped into the mix by Yahel on his various keyboards are what lifts Afterburn to the next level. On "Skyliner," he plays acoustic piano, driving hard with his own solo turn before dancing in the most simpatico way behind Waldorff's guitar.
"Eel Thye Deeflat," a Waldorff composition, rolls from an inward mood into a wild, rock-infused exploratory rant, while the set closer, drummer Jon Wikan's "Man in the Black Hat," has searching, mid-sixties Miles Davis vibe.
With Afterburn, Torben Waldorff moves both his group concept and music forward.
Track Listing: Daze; JWS; Espresso Crescent; Choro Dancado Heimat; Squealfish; Eel Thye Deeflat; Skyliner; Man In The Black Hat.
Personnel: Torben Waldorff: guitar; Donny McCaslin: tenor saxophone; Sam Yahel: piano, Fender Rhodes, organ; Matt Clohesy: bass; Jon Wikan: drums.