Kenneth Dahl Knudsen: Clockstopper (2012)
Not much is known about Danish bassist Kenneth Dahl Knudsen, even his own website reveals little about his personal story, only that he has won several awards, including being voted "Jazz musician of 2010 in northern Denmark," has been fortunate to have performed the music he loves for most of his life and claims inspiration from the music of John Coltrane and Igor Stravinsky. Delivering his second album as leader on Clockstopper, Knudsen leads a core quintet of international players, which he later turns into a skilled septet by adding saxophone and trombone. The musicians interpret a select repertoire of sophisticated and intricate pieces making for an album of pure modern jazz.
Recognizing that starting off with your best effort is a positive move, Knudsen's septet begins with "Hadeans Arrival," a forceful hard-driving tune employing the horn section of Polish trumpeter Tomasz Dabrowski, fellow Dane, trombonist Jonas Lindh and saxophonist Jaleel Shaw, from Philadelphia, who delivers a wonderful solo as the center-piece of the tune. Knudsen then sets the stage for renowned Danish pianist Soren Moller and Israeli-born jazz guitarist Gilad Hekselman, who provide further highlights of the piece. There are some stark moments on the melodically moving "Couchophobia," while the music takes a different turn on the slow-paced and dark-toned "Tucked In."
The modern sounds of the disc continue on the challenging "Time Trip," and "Sheeps and Raptors," where deliberately strong statements from the bassist offer some of his best work on the album. The music continues to evolve on "Glimpse" and "Beautiful Behavior," which feature Grammy nominated drummer Johnathan Blake. The set comes to a close on another of the bassist's intricate compositions with "Time To Go."
Kenneth Dahl Knudsen may not be a household name in the jazz genre outside of Denmark, but his Clockstopper is indeed an accomplishment deserving attention from modern jazz enthusiastsnot so much for his chops on the bass but rather, for his talents as a composer. Knudsen refuses to play it safe by performing standards or treading on the familiar jazz landscape here, instead he journeys down a more progressive road with compositions that move the music forward on Clockstoppers, jazz moves to a modern beat.
Track Listing: Hadeans Arrival; Couchophobia; Tucked In; Sheeps & Raptors; In Our Night; Glimpse; Beautiful Behaviour; Time To Go.
Personnel: Kenneth Dahl Knudson: bass; Jaleel Shaw: saxophone (1, 4, 9); Jonas Lindh:trombone (1, 4, 9); Gilad Hekselman: guitar; Soren Moller: piano; Johnathan Blake: drums; Tomasz Dombrowski: trumpet.
Record Label: Longlife Records
Style: Modern Jazz