Denmark has a great jazz tradition. Just like Paris, Copenhagen has been a haven for jazz musicians in exile (from the US, South Africa, etc.) for decades. Jazz has had a strong position in the city since the '40s, and many great players have been produced in this fertile climate, the best known being Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen. Well, here is another one that deserves international success: pianist Jacob Christoffersen.
The impression that strikes immediately and persists through the whole CD is that this music sounds very fresh and very familiar at the same time. Christoffersen has a clean style, seemingly free of influences from piano icons that he obviously has listened to, like Keith Jarrett and Bill Evans. Sometimes the compositions bring back the flavour from a record like Jarrett's Belonging, or maybe My Song. But the playing style here is really fresh, very distinct and clear, nicely showcased by these beautiful tunes. This record, marked by strong playing and excellent compositions from the first note, is full of musical joy, expressed by the players and absorbed by the listener. Melodies just keep pouring out of Christoffersen, with a nice flow and at the same time a driving attack, a quick punch a couple of notches stronger than we normally hear in this type of jazz.
In addition to his work as a teacher at the well renowned Rhythmic Conservatory of Copenhagen and as a sideman in various Danish jazz groups, Christoffersen also plays with a few rock bandsand maybe that has helped him preserve his straightforward attack and musical approach. These features, combined with a wonderful lyricism and excellent songwriting, makes Facing The Sun a nice musical surprise.
The playing is very dynamic, from not just the piano but the whole band, including great drum solos from Jonas Johansen (whom I recently caught live with Ulf Wakenius, and his drum solos were just as nice on stage as they are on this recording). And Jesper Bodilsen plays his powerful, yet smooth and sensitive bass. That's why he is one of Denmark's busiest bassists, currently engaged with Ed Thigpen, Stefano Bollani, Kasper Villaume, and others.
This is straightforward and very melodic jazz, with a playful and joyful delivery. Simply beautiful, without ever getting too sweet. Rather than calling it mainstream, I would say that this music is right in the heart of jazz.
Personnel: Jacob Christoffersen: piano; Jesper Bodilsen: bass; Jonas Johansen: drums.