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Daniel Sommer: Duets

Jakob Baekgaard By

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One of the most important things about being a drummer is the ability to play in different contexts. Whether it is a subdued, lyrical conversation or a frenetic exchange of energy, the drummer helps to shape the mood of the music by underlining it or adding contrapuntal color.

A duo record is perhaps the most efficient way of hearing how a drummer reacts to his or her surroundings, and a special variation of the duo album is the type where the drummer plays duets with different musicians. Kevin Brow's Dolls & Guns (2011) is an example of an album that explores the possibilities of different duos and the young Danish drummer, Daniel Sommer, has made another attempt with an album that sticks purely to the duo format.

The concept is simple: Nine different musicians, nine different duos. The pieces are improvised and don't have any title. There is just the name of the musician that Sommer plays with, the instrument and that's it.

The album is out digitally, but also comes as a high quality vinyl pressing and it makes sense to hear the album as two different sides. Side one has duets with bassist Frederik Sakham Lomborg, saxophonists Mikko Innanen and Cesar Joaniquet, and pianists Artturi Rönkä and Seppo Kantonen, who also adds electronics. This side is mostly lyrical and subdued and it is a pleasure to hear how Sommer makes the music whisper with brushes and softly punctuates the rhythm with his sticks and the breezy sound of his cymbals. There is also a tendency to melodic improvisations, with saxophonist Mikko Innanen forming finely shaped lines and Artturi Rönkä playing a riverbed of broad melancholy chords, echoing Bill Evans.

Side two, on the other hand, is more experimental and less memorable. Here Sommer plays with pianists Butch Lacy and Kari Ikonen, saxophonist Johannes Sarjasto and guitarist Marc Ducret. While Ducret is an intriguing guitarist, there is too much noodling and pyrotechnics on his track and the gargling throat sounds on the track with Johannes Sarjasto is an acquired taste. It gets better with Ikonen and Lacy, but the final impression is still that the album is a mixed bag. Some may favor the lyrical tracks, some may prefer the avantgarde excursions and others again may like both sides of the story. There is no doubt, however, that Daniel Sommer is a highly accomplished and empathic drummer that it will be interesting to follow in the future.

Track Listing: 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9.

Personnel: Daniel Sommer: drums; Artturi Rönkä: piano; Seppo Kantonen: piano & electronics; Butch Lacy: piano; Kari Ikonen: piano; Mikko Innanen: saxophone; Cesar Joaniquet: saxophone; Johannes Sarjasto: saxophone; Fredrik Sakham Lomborg: double bass; Marc Ducret: guitar.

Title: Duets | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Self Published

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