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Alex Riel Special Quartet: Full House (2012)

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Alex Riel Special Quartet: Full House How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

In 1963, at the tender age of 23, Alex Riel became the house drummer at Montmartre-the Copenhagen jazz club-backing such US giants as Dexter Gordon
Dexter Gordon
Dexter Gordon
1923 - 1990
sax, tenor
, Paul Gonsalves
Paul Gonsalves
Paul Gonsalves
1920 - 1974
sax, tenor
, Don Byas
Don Byas
Don Byas
1912 - 1972
sax, tenor
, Roland Kirk, Kenny Dorham
Kenny Dorham
Kenny Dorham
1924 - 1972
trumpet
and Archie Shepp
Archie Shepp
Archie Shepp
b.1937
saxophone
.

In 2010, he returned to the legendary Scandinavian venue which had recently reopened as a jazz club after being many other things over the years, including a hairdressing salon. Now he was the star of the show, doyen of Danish drummers and there to celebrate his 70th birthday.

He played to an ecstatic audience with a special quartet whose other members included Swiss alto saxophonist George Robert
George Robert
b.1960
, Italian pianist Dado Moroni
Dado Moroni
Dado Moroni
b.1962
piano
and Danish bassist Jesper Lundgaard
Jesper Lundgaard
Jesper Lundgaard
b.1954
bass
.

Kjeld Frandsen, music critic for the Danish daily newspaper Berlingske, said Riel "responded by igniting a fantastic musical firework display." This album chronicles part of that display.

It's basically a good, old-fashioned blowing session but one that hasn't always translated that well to disk. The principal problem is Robert's tendency to dominate the proceedings with his uninhibited, sometimes incoherent wailings, particularly on the opener, an overly rambunctious version of "Just Friends."

However, Moroni is a joy throughout, bringing cohesion to the ensemble and soloing with great distinction. His two-fisted solo on John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
's "Impressions," in which he interacts superbly with Riel, saves the number after Robert's parade of Trane-type licks-better suited to the jazz department of the University of Applied Sciences in Lausanne, where he otherwise teaches.

During "Body And Soul," Robert inserts a chorus of "Happy Birthday To You" to ecstatic cries from the audience, fine on the night but a trifle wearing after repeated plays. And Riel's own composition, "Chiming In," a gimmicky, extremely short piece relying, as the title implies, on the use of chimes, serves no real purpose.

Robert is largely absent from Jimmy Van Heusen's "Like Someone In Love," which comes as a relief, and when he returns it is mercifully in less frenetic mode on Willard Robison's lovely, lilting ballad, "Old Folks," on which Lundgaard plays superbly.

The proceedings come to a tumultuous close with a bluesy-sometimes almost rhythm and bluesy-treatment of Clifford Brown
Clifford Brown
Clifford Brown
1930 - 1956
trumpet
's "Sandu," with Robert subdued, Moroni magnifico, and Lundgaard lovingly bowing a subtle solo.

Track Listing: Just Friends; Body And Soul; Impressions; Chiming In; Like Someone In Love; Old Folks; Sandu.

Personnel: Alex Riel: drums; George Robert: alto saxophone; Dado Moroni: piano: Jesper Lundgaard: bass.

Record Label: Storyville Records

Style: Modern Jazz


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