Torben Waldorff: Afterburn (2008)
Over the course of his recordings, Torben Waldorff has shown his skills as a composer in addition to his undoubted accomplishments as a guitarist. Waldorff wrote six of the tunes here, in addition to one each from composer/arranger Maria Schneider, drummer Jon Wikan and saxophonist Joel Miller.
Waldorff and tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin work particularly well together. But the other musicians make compelling contributions also, and it is in that overall ambit that the CD comes up trumps as the band digs into each tune and brings out its richness.
Waldorff's compositions are varied in their structure. He balances each tune with a fine hand, energizing the band and then cooling it down; creating music that envelops and thrills the senses.
The band gets into a "Daze" right off the bat, with a gradual build-up. The melody ingrains itself as it swings lithely on the tenor saxophone. Once the heat is tempered, McCaslina constantly innovative player with a sturdy presencespins an array of phrases, his intonation underlining the power of an articulate spell of ideas. Waldorff picks the melodic line and lets it saturate his progression, bending his strings ever so lightly and using Matt Clohesy's bass lines to counterpoint. With Wikan laying down a bristling rhythm, this one is a delightful scorcher.
Schneider's "Choro Dancado" is a brilliant piece of writing and the band does justice to it, with Waldorff and McCaslin savoring the melody and indulging in it. Their improvisations are gentle, and as they replenish the fount of ideas, they bring out the inherent beauty of its Brazilian form.
"Squealfish" is given a makeover by the band. What was a waltz is transformed into a bop tune first by Sam Yahel (piano) and then by McCaslin. Waldorff adds a piquant passage, reining in the pulse before he opens out and lets his guitar sing in unfettered joy, making it a thorough and complete performance.
The after burn will remain long after the music has ended, and there will be no gripes about that.
Track Listing: Daze; JWS; Espresso Crescent; Choro Dancado; Heimat; Squealfish; Eel Thye Deeflat; Skyliner; Man in the Black Hat.
Personnel: Torben Waldorff: guitar; Donny McCaslin: tenor saxophone; Sam Yahel: piano, organ, Fender Rhodes; Matt Clohesy: bass; Jon Wikan: drums, percussion.