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Torben Waldorff: American Rock Beauty

Eyal Hareuveni By

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On his second release for ArtistShare, Danish guitarist Torben Waldorff has chosen to test the rare telepathic interplay among his quintet members on songs that were sketched intuitively in a matter of minutes. This unique approach has resulted in some very infectious tunes with strong, beautiful melodies, though it does feel as though this gifted quintet could have risen to higher challenges.

Joining Waldorff are tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin, bassist Matt Clohesy and drummer Jon Wikan—all of whom played on Waldorff's previous release, Afterburn (ArtistShare, 2008)—along with new recruit, keyboardist Jon Cowherd. The close and tight understanding between Waldorff and McCaslin usually marks the musical way for the rest of the quintet.

Waldorff's compositions reveal his diverse musical language and a rich vocabulary of references. The opening "Shark" has a rousing seventies fusion flavor, as does the Brazilian-tinged "Song-Ella," and both are indebted to Pat Metheny Group's early ECM recordings. "Shining Through" has such an intense, gospel-like melodic line that it sounds as though it were composed as a theme for an action TV series. The title track is one of the most beautiful compositions in Waldroff's entire repertoire—an expressive, melancholic ballad that succeeds to blur its deep sadness with a clear emotional beauty. The closing "Scape" is another gentle ballad, full of hope.

The two longest compositions—"Waves" and "Late"—defy categorization, revealing the great potential of this hard-working quintet. Both possess a clear melodic undercurrent, demonstrating Waldorff's storytelling compositional skills as they move through conflicting moods and dramatic changes. "Late," especially, reaffirms the telepathic interplay between Waldorff and McCaslin, as the saxophonist constructs a towering solo, intertwined with Waldroff's intricate, guitar lines.

Track Listing: Shark; Shining Through; Waves; American Rock Beauty; Late; Lama; Song-Ella; Scape.

Personnel: Torben Waldorff: guitar; Donny McCaslin: tenor saxophone; Jon Cowherd: piano, Fender Rhodes, organ; Matt Clohesy: bass; Jon Wikan: drums.

Title: American Rock Beauty | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: ArtistShare

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