Brilliance, Torben Waldorff's first American-released album, presents a fresh take on the Scandinavian guitarist/composer's tunes. (His two previous albums on the Swedish LJ label were available in Canada and Europe.) This live quartet performance was recorded at the popular downtown Manhattan 55 Bar jazz club with tenorist Donny McCaslin, bassist Matt Clohesy and drummer Jon Wikan. Clohesy and Wikan are regulars at this venue.
These five lengthy selections (three of which are more than ten minutes in length) provide an exposition of Waldorff's compositional ability; one piece comes from the pen of McCaslin. In general, McCaslin is really the showcase of this album, insofar as playing time is concerned. Listening to the album a second time helps to reveal Waldorff's skills as a guitar accompanist and soloist.
This is probably best playing by McCaslin that I've heard. He specializes here in moody simmering that does occasionally heat up to some avant flashes in the tradition of post-Coltrane expressionism. However, he serves mostly to flesh out the desired mode of each individual track. Waldorff and McCaslin's relationship dates back to their student days at the Berklee School of Music, where they both studied in the 1980s.
The album begins the opening balladic "Alice" with a brief handoff to McCaslin, a lovely way to start, considering the tenor saxophonist's sensitivity. "Jurotrash" is based on a mid-tempo guitar vamp that animates both Wikan and then Clohesy before McCaslin states the melody line and solos. Waldorff switches to synth and then back to guitar, and his solo provides more incentive for McCaslin's exciting second solo, which terminates with Wikan's drum work. The sole non-Waldorff tune, "Seen From Above," is perhaps the best display of the drummer and saxophonist's capability for interplay.
The distribution of this album on the AristShare label provides the listener with the abilitity to download special separate nine-track studio versions and make personalized mixes, even for play-along jazz. The unique process of utilizing the internet website allows more sharing of the musical experience through the audio and visual presentation of rehearsal and concerts, as well as elaboration on composition, improvisation and arranging.
Personnel: Torben Waldorff: guitar, synth; Donny McCaslin: tenor sax; Matt Clohesy: acoustic bass; Jon Wikan: drums.