The idea of combining jazz with a graphic novel seemed like a onetime-event when saxophonist Wayne Shorter did it with Emanon (Blue Note, 2018). But here comes a project in the same spirit, albeit with a more quirky and humorous touch. Hr & Fru OrgelDuo Travels the World is an invitation into the strange and wonderful world of a cartoon couple, Mr. and Mrs. OrgelDuo.
Many groups speak about creating their own universe. OrgelDuo, comprising organist Simon Eskildsen and drummer Daniel Sommer, takes this statement literally and their vinyl LP, packaged in a glorious gatefold, is accompanied by a 50-page full-color comic book that tells the strange story of Mr. and Mrs. OrgelDuo. It's a satirical take on tourism, told in English, with elements of action-packed detective and superhero stories. Real-life trumpeter Scott Westh has a prominent role as the fictional agent Scott West.
Don't expect any kind of realism as the plot jumps from one unlikely event to the other, but that's the joy of this homage to the world of cartoons, where anything can happen. The music is as charming as the cartoon and acts as a soundtrack to the farfetched story. The spacy organ groove "Caribbean Cruise," with ornamental flourishes in the style of Hailu Mergia, sets the tone for an album that gladly steals from spy themes, B-movie soundtracks, exotica, psychedelia and soul-jazz. Guest stars includes Jens Balder, who plays trombone on "Lovetune," while Westh and saxophonists Cesar Joaniquet and Marco Dania spice things up on "Diamonds," whose brass-driven organ-funk brings to mind the Afrobeat stylings of one of Eskildsen's other projects, AddisAbabaBand.
"Diamonds" is one of the lengthier tracks on an album with many pieces clocking in at between one and three minutes. It's easy to imagine the music being expanded in live performance, but here the short tracks fit well with the soundtrack format. Hr & Fru OrgelDuo Travels the World is a bold experiment that succeeds.
1. Caribbean Cruise;
2. The Island;
6. Desert Mushrooms;
7. Admirals Lullaby.
9. All Inclusive;
10. Joses Rythms;
12. Dance of the Geisha;
14. Fiasco Tours.
Simon Eskildsen: organ/synth;
Daniel Sommer: drums;
Scott Westh: trumpet (8, 11, 12);
Marc Dania: saxophone (11, 12);
Cesar Joaniquet: saxophone (5, 11);
Jens Balder: trombone (13).