Christian Vuust: Urban Hymn (2014)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
As the jazz capital of the world, New York holds a special fascination for musicians around the world. One of them, the Danish saxophonist Christian Vuust, got the chance to fulfill his dream of living and working in the city and also recorded an album of his own music while he was there. The result is more than a souvenir from a musical tourist. It is a genuine artwork of sophisticated beauty where Vuust is able to hold his own in the company of some of the most prominent musicians on the local scene.
Vuust has frequently been collaborating with another Danish musician, guitarist Jakob Bro, and he shares Bro's love of rubato tone poems. This is evident on the aptly titled "Rubato NYC" where he slowly spins blue mournful lines through the lush laidback harmonies of pianist Aaron Parks.
Parks, who entered the big league of pianists with the solo piano recital Arborescence (ECM, 2013), shows himself as superb and thoughtful accompanist, adding a string of melodic pearls on Vuust's composition "Helgenæs" where Ben Street's understated groove carries the composition and drummer Jeff Ballard colors the music with percussion and bells.
Vuust himself makes the compositions sing with his soft and warm tone, reminiscent of fellow saxophonists Chris Cheek and Stan Getz, but he has his own expression, influenced by Scandinavian folksongs and psalms.
While the music on Urban Hymn is dynamic, reflecting the restless pulse of the city, there's also a center of meditative calm. At heart, Vuust is a balladeer who makes flowers grow through concrete and the unique musicianship of his quartet and the work of engineer James Farber, who has captured the sound perfectly, underline that in every way Urban Hymn is a musical dream come true.
Track Listing: Helgenæs; Lærke; Urban Hymn; Rubato NYC; Fjer; Wedding Song; Biking The
Big Apple; Tompkins Square Park; Summer Bygone.
Personnel: Christian Vuust: tenor saxophone; Aaron Parks: piano; Ben Street: bass;
Jeff Ballard: drums.
Record Label: Self Produced