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Torben Waldorff Quartet: Brilliance (2006)

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

If this isn't a title that screams "hostage to fortune," I don't know what is, and whether or not this music lives up to it is a matter of opinion. What it is in effect is a programme of inoffensive, slightly dreamy modern mainstream that—given the silver tide of CD releases these days—could be destined to make little impression.

As a guitarist Waldorff hews close to the model of John Abercrombie, but he lacks Abercrombie's way with a memorable composition and his ability to surprise. Four of the five pieces here are from his pen, and they inhabit some ill-defined ground between the line for blowing on and the kind of individual construction which asks searching questions.

There is a certain generic quality to Donny McCaslin's tenor sax sound, but this doesn't alter the fact that he consistently steals the solo honours here. On the lengthy "Astro" the burnished edge on his tone lends itself well to a certain melancholia, whilst the lope of "Alice" also allows him to play to his strengths. The quickly faded audience response to this one, however, hardly documents the excitement that many a live album has managed to capture in the past.

The often reflective nature of the music perhaps dictated this. The comparatively brief "Jeep" could just be the work of a group getting into its stride, but the fact that it's the last track on the disc suggests otherwise. Again the mood is one of polite calm, and though Jon Wikan's drumming shows he's able to take an interventionist approach, the name of the game again seems to be restraint.

Ultimately this isn't mood music, but too often it flirts with that idea to make demands on the listener's attention, and its closing is akin to putting a book back on a shelf—only for it to gather dust with the passing of time.

Track Listing: Alice; Jurotrash; Astro; Seen From Above; Jeep.

Personnel: Donny McCaslin: tenor saxophone; Torben Waldorff: guitar, synthesiser (2); Matt Clohesy: bass; Jon Wikan: drums.

Record Label: ArtistShare

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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