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Ulf Wakenius Quartet/Jim Mullen: Live/Burns

David Rickert By

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The guitar has always been on the back burners of jazz instruments; for every player who cites Wes Montgomery or Jim Hall as an influence, there are probably a hundred who list Miles, Coltrane, or Monk as their primary source of inspiration. However, there are many guitarists out there who are making exciting music that not only features awesome chops but also a willingness to take risks and push boundaries; certainly two features of which jazz can never get enough.

Ulf Wakenius comes roaring in from Sweden with an excellent live disk recorded in his native country. Wakenius, who has spent time gigging with the Oscar Peterson Quartet, displays a seemingly endless supply of interesting licks, especially in the fast tunes (a couple of which are real finger-busters). Special mention goes to Magnus Gran, who chugs along like Elvin Jones's kid brother. However, what really sets this CD apart from the rest are the lovely solo pieces which bookend the album. Although dedicated to Wes Montgomery and Jim Hall, they are more of a middle ground between the stylings of Johnny Smith and Joe Pass. Beautiful stuff.

Jim Mullen certainly breaks new ground by adopting traditional Scottish ballads written by Robert Burns to a jazz quartet setting. On his CD Burns (get it?) Mullen proves that these songs by Scotland's national poet are standards as worthy of jazz treatment as anything written by the poets Tin Pan Alley. However, unlike 'Greensleeves', another frequently arranged folk tune, most listeners will not recognize any of these tunes (a pity 'Auld Lang Syne' wasn't included for a jazzbo New Year's party). Although the concept ultimately proves more intriguing than the CD itself, Mullen's laid-back melodies and lyrical sensibility combined with tasteful accompaniment result in an album worth hearing. Ulf Wakenius Quartet 'Live'

Track Listing: The Gretest of Them All, Notes to J.C., Skylark, Lotus Blossom/Reflections in D, Bernie?s Tune, In A Sentimental Mood. Jim Mullens ?Burns?

Count the Lawin?, Banks and Braes, Bonnie Wee Thing, Comin? Through the Rye, Willie Gray, The Lea Rig, Sweet Afton, For the Sake O? Somebody, Lassie Lie Near Me, A Man?s a Man, Red, Red Rose.

Personnel: (get it?) Mullen proves that these songs by Scotland?s national poet are standards as worthy of jazz treatment as anything written by the poets Tin Pan Alley. However, unlike ?Greensleeves?, another frequently arranged folk tune, most listeners will not recognize any of these tunes (a pity ?Auld Lang Syne? wasn?t included for a jazzbo New Year?s party). Although the concept ultimately proves more intriguing than the CD itself, Mullen?s laid-back melodies and lyrical sensibility combined with tasteful accompaniment result in an album worth hearing. Ulf Wakenius Quartet ?Live? Ulf Wakenius, guitar; Ake Johansson, piano; Yasuhito Mori, bass; Magnus Gran, drums.

Jim Mullen, guitar; Gareth Williams, piano; Mick Hutton, bass; Gary Husband, drums.

Title: Live/Burns | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Dragon Records

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