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Jakob Dinesen: Keys & Strings

Jakob Baekgaard By

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In the liner essay for Jakob Dinesen's double album, Keys & Strings, writer Eddie Michel Azoulay mentions the tenor saxophonist's quest for truth and beauty. The romantic poet John Keats is not mentioned directly, but his lines from the famous poem "Ode on a Gracian Urn" immediately come to mind: "Beauty is truth, truth beauty, that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."

Indeed, it would be correct to call Dinesen a romantic saxophonist and recording with strings—as he did on the acclaimed Yasmin (Stunt Records, 2014)—is also very romantic, especially because the album is dedicated to his wife. However, Dinesen isn't a romantic in a weltschmerz kind of a way, but that doesn't mean he is shallow. On Keys & Strings, he embraces complex emotions and acknowledges loss, which is reflected in the beautiful homages "Hugso" and "Nicolai Smuk" (Nicolai Beautiful). Both are dedicated to bassists: the late Hugo Rasmussen and Nicolai Munch-Hansen . "Hugso" for Rasmussen is even played twice, with and without strings, and both versions reflect a deep emotional musicality. But in Dinesens's world deep isn't bleak. His approach to the horn is essentially light and like tenor saxophonist Mark Turner, he finds poetry in the high register of the horn. "Homely" is a fine example of his ability to soar on the saxophone, wrapped in a warm bed of strings and aided by Carsten Dahl's crystalline piano.

The album is divided into two parts, "Keys" and "Piano," but in fact, keys and strings intertwine on both parts. Instead, the art of the ballad is the focal point and Dinesen both plays his own compositions like "Milton," dedicated to his son, and established classics such as "Spring Is Here" and "Everything Happens To Me." The latter is recorded with the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra. Compared to the other tracks with a much smaller string section, the sound is big and dense and Dinesen's light sound lifts the tune.

Dinesen has traveled far in his musical journey, playing indie-jazz with the group Once Around the Park, acoustic trio with Paul Motian on Dino (Stunt Records, 2009) and with Cuban rhythms on Dino's Afro-Cuban Dream: Enamorado in Copenhague (Stunt Records, 2011). On Keys & Strings, he plays with old friends pianist Nikolaj Torp Larsen and bassist Anders Christensen and finds new things to say. Keys & Strings is a major statement from Dinesen.

Track Listing: CD1: Homely; Hope; Thaya; Smuk; Hugso; Free Eddie; Konge og Bajads; First One. CD2: Spring Is Here; Milton; Nicolai Smuk; God Bless The child; Charlie Haden’s Sound Of Love; Dance on Roses; Everything Happens to Me.

Personnel: Jakob Dinesen: tenor saxophone; Carsten Dahl: piano, percussion, string arrangement; Heine Hansen: piano, string arrangement; Darin Pantoomkomol: piano; Magnus Hjorth: piano, string arrangement; Nikolaj Torp Larsen: keyboards & effects, string arrangement; Anders Christensen: bass; Morten Ærø: drums; Jakob Høyer: drums; Andrea Gyarfas: violin; Karen Johanne Pedersen: violin; Sidsel Feher Most: viola; Samira Dayyani: cello; Josefine Dalsgaard: violin; Niels Levinsen: viola + Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra.

Title: Keys & Strings | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Stunt Records/Sundance Music

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