Jakob Dinesen: Dino (2008)
While it's certainly not appropriate to judge a musician's sound by his appearance, it says something of the relaxed nature of Danish saxophonist Jakob Dinesen that he, one time at a gig, chose to perform with bare feet. It's such joyful eccentricity that sets Dinesen apart from other saxophonists on the Danish scene and makes him tower above the talented mass of Coltrane imitators.
Dinesen's approach to the horn is certainly modernistic, but his use of open form and space is filtered through the swinging romanticism of Lester Young, whose soft singing tone and elaborated storytelling is a clear influence. Therefore, it's no surprise that Dino opens with a seducing version of "Come Sunday," written by Young's most famous employer, Duke Ellington.
Most of the tracks are, however, written by Dinesen. Helping him out is his old acquaintance, bassist Anders Christensen, and ubiquitous drummer Paul Motian. Like Dinesen, Christensen and Motian both have the ability to swing with suspension; they play around the beat, and it is this sneaking spaciousness that gives the music a feeling of sensual laziness.
Most of the tunes are mid-tempo ballads, but Dinesen's "Night Of The Strooch" and the group's reading of the Afro-Cuban traditional "Ochun" bring some welcome variation. Here, trombonist Mads Hyhne and trumpeter Kasper Tranberg add delicate brass textures to the funky rhythms that showcase the saxophonist's fascination with the folk music of Africa and Cuba.
Without making too much of a fuss, Dinesen is his own man, refreshingly idiosyncratic and yet indebted to the tradition. There's a feline elegance about his ability to shape lines that seemingly come from out of nowhere, but there's no doubt that, in spite of the deceiving easiness, this is a musician who has worked hard to achieve his tone. Dino, whose title refers to the artist's nickname, is the culmination of his quest for a personal sound.
Track Listing: Come Sunday; Night Of The Strooch; Justice; Tennesee Waltz; Ochun; Darwin; Onlyest Way; Heart Of A Fool; Butterfly Man; Dance On Roses; Good Onions.
Personnel: Jakob Dinesen: tenor sax; Anders Christensen: bass; Paul Motian: drums; Mads Hyhne: trombone (2, 5); Kasper Tranberg: trumpet (2, 5).