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It is often difficult to transcribe onto a CD the electricity of a live performance, but alto saxophonist Oliver Lake does it with ease on Lake/Tchicai/Osgood/Westergaard. In 2003, Lake completed a brief tour of Denmark with tenor saxophonist John Tchicai, drummer Kresten Osgood and bassist Jonas Westergaard. They immediately went into the studio afterwards, the product of which is this release on Lake's Passin' Thru record label. The disc is an invigoratingly spiritual record whose compositions range from avant-garde swing to tribal chants.
Osgood begins the first track, "Azurite, with a nimble tribal beat, which Lake and Tchicai follow up with seductive and equally nimble solos. Composed by Tchicai, its gripping melodic energy permeates the rest of the record, giving the studio recording the type of force usually present only in live concerts. At the end of the tune, Osgood expands on the opening beat in a mesmerizing solo that shows off his dexterity and skill.
"Turku Boogie, composed by Westergaard, ventures into swing territory, eventually giving way to a mellifluous, meditative solo by Lake whose tone is gentle yet forceful and it dances thoughtfully across the tune, adding depth to the light swing tempo.
Strangely enough, Lake composed only one of the eight songs on the record. Though "Valley Sketch begins with an aggressive percussion rhythm, it maintains the hard swinging buoyancy present in the rest of the album. Tchicai performs a sparse yet complex solo, which Westergaard complements with his own commanding bass lead.
"Smiling Billy Higgins, composed by Osgood, swings just as hard as "Turku Boogie and features yet another brisk, dizzying solo by Lake. He and Osgood dive into a highly energetic duet that makes the tune the perfect conclusion to a spiritually sumptuous record. With Lake's avant-garde leanings and the quartet's compositional diversity, this is an insightful and wholly satisfying record.
Track Listing: Azurite; Valley Sketch; Loop for Susan; Turku Boogie; Der Er Stilhed I Tingene; Osgood in Asgaard; Spirit; Smiling Billy Higgins.
Personnel: Oliver Lake: alto saxophone/poetry; John Tchicai: tenor saxophone/poetry; Kresten Osgood: drums; Jonas Westergaard: bass.
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.