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Martin Lutz: In Denmark I Was Born

Gareth Thompson By

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Two hands, one black and one white, hold aloft a heart-shaped map of the world. It might not be subtle, but the artwork adorning this album speaks volumes for it. Martin Lutz is an eclectic Danish composer with a global outlook and a compassionate ethic. He believes in love, empathy and the power of collective action. Try stating an argument against all that.

For this group outing, Lutz the pianist takes something of a backseat. Instead his backing septet arrests our attention on this likeable work, where elements of big band, bop and world music coexist. In part the style is reminiscent of albums made by John Themis, John Critchinson and Morrissey Mullen for Coda Records in the 1980s. But what Lutz grafts onto this smoothness is a dynamic born of his love for world sounds, with Abdullah Ibrahim an obvious influence.

Indeed we enter South African territory from the off on "Mandela" where the national anthem "Nkosi Sikeleli" is alluded to, before the saxophones pick up this theme and sway with it. Some seductive blowing throughout the record from Jacob Rose, Mads Ole and Jakob Slov really warms the heart. Lutz likes a distinctive melody and holds firm to his well-tuned principles.

"Party In The Village" brings a bossa nova shuffle, as a brass duet swings in tandem like two dancers jiving. "Share" is a pensive piece, with something hymnal in the melody, where the reed instruments hum like a harmonium. "Tanga Beach" takes us back to a festive vibe and another tuneful riff, then the ballad "Soft As Silk" oozes with caramel sax tones. This would be music fit to grace any evening of Danish hygge.

Lutz throws off the shackles on "Right Place, Wrong Dance" as a Latin rawness gets nicely rowdy. "Where Are The Trumpets" stays chirpy and brass bright, before the title track's icy piano notes melt under another flux of saxophones. With its images of snow and sunlight, this number makes a fitting homage to Lutz's homeland.

An obvious murmur against Lutz is that his music veers too close to all-round family entertainment, with its elements of easy listening. But the positive essence in both his life and art makes Lutz a hard act to knock. In Denmark I Was Born is often beautifully simple and simply beautiful.

Track Listing: Mandela; Party In The Village; Deep Leap; Share; Tanga Beach; Soft As Silk; Right Place, Wrong Dance; Whole In Our Hearts; Where Are The Trumpets— Revisited; Homesick; In Denmark I Was Born.

Personnel: Jacob Rose: alto and soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, clarinet; Jakob Skov: alto saxophone; Mads Ole: tenor and baritone saxophone; Martin Lutz: rhodes, piano; Lars Johnsen: bass; Ricco Victor: drums; Rune Harder Olesen: percussion; Michael Blicher: keyboards, percussion and saxophone.

Title: In Denmark I Was Born | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Gatewaymusic

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