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Jazz & Latin Beats is a follow–up to Copenhagen–born saxophonist Hans Ulrik’s Jazz and Mambo, which won a Danish Grammy Award as “Jazz Album of the Year” in 1998. This is another strong outing, even though the “Latin beats” are always subordinated to the Jazz and in some cases (“Gone with the Wind,” “The Man I Love,” “Sad Young Men”) aren’t even present. Ulrik claims John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins as his principal role models, and the Rollins influence is conspicuous on several numbers — “Gone with the Wind,” Ulrik’s “Bambolotto,” Rollins’ “No Moe” — but elsewhere Ulrik is much less Rollins–like, adopting a light, airy sound and plainspoken approach more comparable to that of Eddie Harris, James Moody or, among the younger generation, Harry Allen or Scott Hamilton. Ulrik also divides his time between tenor sax and clarinet, playing the latter (and sounding much like Swedish master Putte Wickman) on “Sad Young Men,” Lennon / McCartney’s “Blackbird,” Brubeck’s “Take 5” and Gershwin’s “The Man I Love.” The album opens quietly with a lovely version of the standard “We’ll Be Together Again” set to a gently swaying mambo beat and including a perceptive solo by bassist Anders Christensen (a standout as well on “Gone with the Wind” and “The Man I Love”). “Blackbird” and “Take 5” quicken the pace before Ulrik slows it again for another easygoing mambo, his own “My Sweet Louise” (featuring his tenor and Niclas Knudsen’s crystalline guitar). Here, as on “Together Again,” Ulrik dubs clarinet behind tenor for added color on the last chorus. The Ulrik–Rollins connection surfaces on “Gone with the Wind” as well as on the up-tempo “Bambolotto and “No Moe,” which follow his warmhearted reading (on clarinet) of “The Man I Love.” Pianist Jacob Christoffersen moves to organ (as he does on “Blackbird,” “Bambolotto” and “No Moe”) for part of Ulrik’s “Amnesia,” after which the group exits the way it entered —quietly — with “Ballad of the Sad Young Men.” While there’s no doubt that this is Ulrik’s gig, his companions are more than window–dressing, with Christoffersen, Knudsen, Christensen, drummer Mikkel Hess and percussionist Lisbeth Diers laying down a plush rhythmic carpet on which Ulrik is wonderfully free to maneuver and to swing, which he does quite well. Another award–winner? Perhaps.
Contact:Stunt Records, 29 W. Maple Avenue, Bellmawr, NJ 08031 (phone 856–931–6441; fax 856–931–6445). Web site, www.sundance.dk
Track Listing: We
Personnel: Hans Ulrik, saxophones, clarinet; Jacob Christoffersen, electric piano, organ; Niclas Knudsen, guitars; Anders Christensen, Nicolai Munch Hansen (10), bass; Mikkel Hess, Jonas Johansen (10), drums; Lisbeth Diers, percussion.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.