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Torben Waldorff: Afterburn (2008)

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Torben Waldorff: Afterburn How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Jazz guitarists are oft-times forgotten in this post-Metheny/post-Scofield era. But there are many rising stars such as Lage Lund , Miles Okazaki and Mike Moreno who are poised to carry the flame even farther. Torben Waldorff is another torch-bearer whose Afterburn pinpoints his growing abilities.

This is his second ArtistShare release, following 2006's Brilliance: Live at the 55 Bar, further showing a player with a distinct presence whose music conveys modernism and his Scandinavian roots. Thoughtful compositions unfold with the working quintet from Brilliance comprised of saxophonist Donny McCaslin (Maria Schneider Orchestra, Dave Douglas Quintet), B3 organ-guru Sam Yahel (Joshua Redman, Peter Bernstein, Norah Jones), and bassist Matt Clohesy and drummer Jon Wikan, both with extensive credits.

Afterburn is kaleidoscopic. The bright lights of "Daze," a hip upbeat rocker with exhaustingly detailed guitar/sax unison and McCaslin's devastating solo, or the mellow Sunday morning vibe of "JWS," with Yahel's angelic organ, all illustrate the band's chemistry as well as Waldorff's playing. Hints of the "Nordic vibe" are present on "Choro Dancado" and "Skyliner," tunes that mix old world melodies with new influences. There's fast blowing, mid-tempo and also slower pieces like "Eel Thye Deeflat," that are filled with melodic acuity.

With a slightly processed tone, Waldorff's is equally impressive whether soloing or comping. He fluid precision rips the swinging "Espresso Crescent" and expands a soulful solo on "Heimat" as Clohesy and Wikan hold everything together superbly. His performance alone would be enough, but when paired with McCaslin's fiery tenor, the recording is all the more satisfying.

Having known one another since the 1980s, Waldorff and McCaslin have a communication reminiscent of other contemporary guitar/sax collaborations: Kurt Rosenwinkel/Mark Turner (The Remedy (ArtistShare,2008)) and Ben Monder/Jerome Sabbagh (Pogo (Sunnyside,2007)). Their combined voices on "Squealfish" are stunning, inspired and driven by each other's, and while McClaslin's voice is sonically the strongest; it is a clear testament to Waldorff's confidence and unselfishness as an emerging leader with much promise.

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.

Record Label: ArtistShare

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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