Jens Wendelboe: Crazy Energy Jazz Quartet / Get Crazy
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Norwegian trombonist Jens Wendelboe, who loves to “get crazy” by exploring various Jazz formats and sounds from swing to funk, Jazz–rock to fusion, motors straight down the middle of the road on the first of these two discs by his Crazy Energy Quartet, playing, for the most part, songs from the archives of popular and Jazz standards in a sinuously fluent manner that comes closest, perhaps, among his contemporaries to Carl Fontana (or a lower–voiced Bill Watrous, one of whose compositions, the fiery “La Zorra,” is among the tastier items on the menu). After flexing their collective chops on tunes by Porter (“I Love You”), Kern (“All The Things You Are”), Victor Young (“My Foolish Heart”), Ellington (“Sentimental Mood”) and Isham Jones (“There Is No Greater Love”), the quartet wrap things up with a pair of bop classics by Parker (“Yardbird Suite,” “Confirmation”) and another by Rollins (“Oleo”). Earlier in the program, they scamper through Parker’s “Billie’s Bounce” and Toots Thieleman’s “Bluesette.” Tempos are brisk to stormy, with everyone pausing to breathe deeply only on “Sentimental Mood.” The group is sturdy, sharp and swinging, three good reasons (and there are more) to prescribe Crazy Energy to any Jazz enthusiast. While the music on Get Crazy! is less well–known (nine originals by members of the quartet), the temperament is the same — solid, straight–ahead nothing–here–that–can–harm–you modern Jazz of the highest caliber, played with such dexterity and warmth that one scarcely misses the more familiar standards. In fact, the tunes are so charmingly well–upholstered that they call to mind some of the excellent albums produced some years ago by the late trombonist/educator Ashley Alexander, which is high praise indeed. Five of the compositions are by Wendelboe, two each by bassist Frode Berg and pianist/organist Roy Temple Powell who sits in for Torge Railo as the only member of the group not on the earlier date. While both pianists are admirable, I was especially drawn to Powell who evidently has listened to and learned from another well–known pianist by that name. Berg is a marvelous bassist/composer (the haunting ballad “Your Song” and bustling “Decaffeinado” are his) and drummer Erik Smith, the only one in the quartet who doesn’t compose (at least not for this session) is no less indispensable in every other way. He’s especially impressive introducing “Fast Slide,” which closes the date on an uproarious note (or, more accurately, avalanche of notes). Another awesome trombone session in the Rosolino/Fontana/Watrous lineage, and easily recommended. Track listing: Crazy Energy — I Love You; All the Things You Are; Billie’s Bounce; My Foolish Heart; Bluesette; La Zorra; There Is No Greater Love; In a Sentimental Mood; Yardbird Suite; Confirmation; Oleo (52:18). Get Crazy! — Four Detectives; Ear Trumpet; What a Trip; Car Ride; Headlong; Your Song; Decaffeinado; Triplet Whisk; Fast Slide (56:47).
Record Label: Rosa