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Claus Waidtlow: A New Beginning

Jakob Baekgaard By

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Saxophonist Claus Waidtlow has been a vital part of the Danish jazz scene for many years. At the beginning of the '90s, he was already established on the scene and in 1997 he released his debut as a leader, Claustrophobia, on Stunt Records (notice the use of the pun on the saxophonist's name in the title). Since then, Waidtløw has continued to challenge himself. He plays both the tenor, soprano and alto saxophone fluently and has recorded with his own quartet and been a crucial part of the respected Danish big band, Klüvers Big Band, now known as Aarhus Jazz Orchestra, an association that lasted eight years. Waidtløw's interest in big band music has also resulted in the acclaimed big band album Playhouse, which featured drummer Jeff Ballard. Add to this, a profile as a music teacher and Waidtløw seems to have done everything there is to do, and yet he has just started.

Waidtløw's new album is a return to the format of the quartet and is called A New Beginning. His experience as a writer for the big band format has added new layers to his compositions. In order to write for a big band, you need to have clear melodic lines and a sense of all the parts of a composition, including the overall dramaturgy of a piece. Waidtløw uses this knowledge to craft melodic stories that are much more than mere blowing tunes. Like another Danish saxophonist with a big band association, Jan Harbeck, Waidtløw is a true storyteller who has learned from the best. There are notes of Ben Webster and Stan Getz in his soft tenor tone, but also traces of John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins, just to name a few. In other words, he combines soft swinging lyricism with a modern edge.

On the album, Waidtløw is supported by the great rhythm team of drummer Morten Lund and bassist Jesper Bodilsen, who are now widely known for their work in Stefano Bollani's trio. Add to this, the pianist Jacob Christoffersen, with his irresistibly melodic approach to the piano.

Most of the music is played in a classic quartet format, except "Superheroes," "Whisper" and "Cheops Secret." Here the aesthetic approach becomes more polyphonic and breezy with Lars Vissing on trumpet and flugelhorn, Kasper Wagner on alto saxophone, flute and clarinet and Aske Drasbaek adding bass clarinet. This noticeable contrast in sound suggests there's a sketch for an album within the album and, perhaps, another new beginning waiting for Waidtløw.

Track Listing: Florence; New beginning; Superheroes; Invisible land; Autumn in June; Nice to Be Needed; Whisper; Cheops Secret; Viggas Dance Song.

Personnel: Claus Weidtløw: soprano and tenor saxopohone, clarinet (7); Jesper Bodilsen: bass; Morten Lund: drums; Lars Vissing: trumpet, flugelhorn (3, 7, 8); Kasper Wagner: alto saxophone, flute, clarinet (3, 7, 8); Aske Drasbæk: bass clarinet (3, 7, 8).

Title: A New Beginning | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Gateway Music

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