Sahib Shihab: And the Danish Radio Jazz Group (2009)
Made in the mid-'60s, over a decade before Thad Jones led the Danish Radio Big Band, this gem of an album offers more evidence of the centrality of Denmark to the modern, post-World War II jazz scene. It's also a forceful reminder of the limitations of the "great names" approach to jazz history, where such worthy talents as the late Sahib Shihab (1925-89) are ignored or marginalized. Shihab, a pioneering bebop baritone saxophonist and flutist, continued to develop and innovate in the post-bop years, as these compositions/arrangements with a slightly smaller version of today's Radio Big Band, ably attest.
Shihab's approach to orchestral jazz is decidedly post-Swing era modern (Charles Tolliver's current big band comes to mind), employing novel voicings, contrapuntal and fugal strategies and a highly developed architectonic structure that makes each of the eight instrumental pieces here utterly engrossing: complete and detailed jazz creations that seem much longer than their three-plus to six-plus minute running times. "Dance of the Fakowees" manages to develop three distinct melodic strains and shifting rhythms through four turns by soloists plus a coda featuring dueling wah-wah trumpet and trombone over handclapsall in just four-and-a- quarter minutes. "Tenth Lament" is a three-part (slow-fast-slow) impressionistic concerto-like piece featuring Shihab's muscular baritone over chimed orchestral voicings in the middle sectionclocking in as the longest track at 6'20."
"Mai Ding," a piece with Afro-Latin beats that seem unique to Shihab (he's heard introducing them to the band on cowbell as a prelude to the track) alternating with two- and four-beat rhythms adds extra time layers in the chordal pacing of the low horns (baritone sax and tuba), building tension through interlocking lines. "Da-Di" builds a simple phrase into a full-bodied theme by slowly adding instruments and layers of staccato counterpoint. "Harvey's Tune," a waltz featuring Shihab's hummed-blown flute solo, employs a counter-melody hinting at a round, while "The Cross-Eyed Cat" develops a busy little theme into a fugue.
Shihab's compositions and solos are the stars here, but the band is terrific too, with fine solo contributions from the likes of bassist Niels Henning Orsted-Pedersen, trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg, tenor saxophonist Bent Jaedig and numerous others.
Track Listing: Di-Da; Dance Of The Fakowees; Not Yet; Tenth Lament; Mai Ding; Harvey's Tune; No Time For Cries; The Crosseyed Cat; Little French Girl.
Personnel: Sahib Shihab: baritone sax, flute, cowbell, vocal (9); Palle Bolvig, Palle Mikkelborg, Allan Botschinsky: trumpet and flugelhorn; Torolf Molgard: tuba, eufonium; Svend Age Nielsen: trombone, bass trombone; Poul Kjaeldgard: tuba, trombone, bass trombone; Poul Hindberg: alto sax, clarinet; Bent Jaedig: tenor sax, flute, clarinet; Niels Husum: tenor sax, soprano sax, bass clarinet; Bent Nielsen: baritone sax, flute, clarinet; Ib Renard: baritone sax; Louis Hjulmand: vibes; Fritz Von Bulow: guitar; Bent Axen: piano; Niels Henning Orsted Pedersen: bass; Alex Riel: drums.
Record Label: OKTAV Music