Erling Kroner is a man divided — his mind and body pledged to Denmark, his heart and soul wedded to the sultry music of Argentina. Happily for the listener, the outcome of Kroner’s schizophrenia is a near–perfect amalgam of straight–ahead Jazz / blues and South American rhythms and harmonies, more specifically those of the tango and milonga. Seven of the eight compositions on Trombonissimo
are Kroner’s (the other, “Minguito,” was written by Dino Saluzzi), and to play them he has assembled an outstanding group of musicians who are worthy of the name “dream quintet.” Besides Kroner himself, they include woodwind virtuoso Bévort, accordionist Larsen, bassist Bodilsen and drummer Simonsen, each of whom boasts world–class skills. No less talented or indispensable is Kroner’s special guest, Argentine guitarist Quique Sinesi who doubles on charango and helps lend the session a piquant South American flavor. What this session has, besides superb blowing from end to end, is more color and variety than one usually encounters in a quintet / sextet date. While the nucleus is post-bop Jazz, there’s enough of the Latin ambiance to keep everything fresh and appealing. “The Tortured Heavyweight” is dedicated to one of Kroner’s heroes, bassist Charles Mingus, and another, “Baron Charles Blues,” is Mingusian in its composition. Each of Kroner’s arrangements is charming, and the seductive Argentine rhythms and melodies tug figuratively at one’s sleeve and beckon him to unbend and admire the music. “Dreams Four You” opens brightly with Bodilsen’s unaccompanied bass laying down its 7/8 groove, and he is joined in turn by Simonsen, Larsen, Bévort and, finally, Kroner in an exultant gallop to the finish line. On “Introducción y Noctambulo,” it is Larsen’s solo accordion that introduces the theme and establishes the mood. “Trombonissimo,” which one might reasonably envision as a flag–waving showcase for Kroner, is instead a graceful ballad wherein his horn plays a central but less than dominant role alongside Bévort’s tenor and , later, soprano. The equation holds true throughout, with the Dream Quintet operating as a close–knit team and no one player overshadowing the others. Bévort, however, is splendid whenever she appears, whether on tenor, alto or soprano, while Bodilsen and Simonsen are as stalwart a rhythm component as one could desire, Larsen and Sinesi append dazzling splashes of color, and Kroner remains the shrewd and purposeful helmsman. It’s a dream of an album with ample Jazz for the purist garnished with enough South American foodstuffs to slake the appetite of those who hunger for such.
Track listing: Little Kir; The Tortured Heavyweight; Dreams Four You; Tromboníssimo!; Introducción y Noctámbula; Minguito (Dino Saluzzi); Baron Charles Blues; Omoy–Coyé (72:04).