Slovakian-born bassist Jan Jankeje is well known and highly respected within European jazz circles as Jankeje has performed with legends such as the late trumpeter Doc Cheatham and legendary alto saxophonist Benny Waters. Besides scoring music for films, and discovering guitarist and child prodigy Bireli Lagrene, Jankeje has been the house bassist and producer for the fine German based Jazzpoint record label. This CD titled, A Portrait Of represent tracks previously issued on prior Jazzpoint releases finding Jankeje either performing session work or leading his own band.
Jan Jankeje knows how to “swing”! His broad, corpulent wooden sound combined with his pronounced, fleet fingered manipulations enable him to be a bassist of choice for jazz musicians, especially abroad. The opener, Don Redman’s “I Wanna Little Girl Like Mama features the sweet, sonorous trumpet work and sincere vocalizing from the late Doc Cheatham. On this piece, prominent jazz luminaries such as the late pianist Red Richards, guitarist Al Casey and saxophonist George Kelley also perform in swinging fashion. Pianist Romano Mussolini who is the son of Italy’s Benito Mussolini composed “The Roman Swing of Mrs Stone”. Romano is a fine, swinging pianist who has performed with Chet Baker and Stan Getz. The then, 95 year old Benny Waters sings and performs on alto sax on the lively, upbeat “When The Saints Go Marching In”. One of the highlights of this recording is the brief duet Jankeje performs with jazz photographer and proficient clarinetist Hans Kumpf. On this piece titled, “BassClarinet” Kumpf churns out thematically rich phrasing and contrasts well with Jankeje’s booming yet heartfelt bass passages. This composition represents the lone track, which may be considered a bit left-of-center. Tracks including the then, very young Django influenced guitarist Bireli Lagrene, modern jazz guitarist Vic Juris along with multi-instrumentalist Oscar Klein and others make this compilation a thoroughly hip and engaging affair. No hidden agendas here, A Portait Of Jan Jankeje is fun stuff and portrays this multi-faceted musician in glowing fashion. Recommended.. * * * *
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