Danish guitarist Thor Madsen, a relatively new arrival on the New York jazz scene, makes a strong debut with Metal Dog. Leading a quartet through a charged set of original music, Madsen displays not only stunning guitar chops, but an intrepid and progressive musical imagination. He swings hard on "Metalhunden" and "Crazy Dog Out the Window," his quick eighth-note lines dancing with an unpredictability that brings David Gilmore to mind. The moodier pieces, such as "Little Q," "After the Munchies," and "El Niño," are more along the lines of Ben Monder — particularly the beautiful unaccompanied intros Madsen plays on the latter two. But Madsen is no imitator; his tonal choices show promising signs of originality. (The splash of wah-wah that crops up during the snappy 5/8 piece "No Dancing Allowed" is a good example.) His band, moreover, has a knack for negotiating wildly varying rhythmic concepts, from the angular, fragmented funk of "Interference" to the brooding 5/4 of "Phobia."
Madsen throws a curve with his closing track, "Simple Song," which he says was inspired by dub music he heard between sets at a concert by trip-hop pioneer Tricky. Like many of today’s best young jazzers, Madsen has his ear to the ground for new sounds, many of which are to be found well outside the jazz realm. As AAJ’s Rob Evanoff has noted persistently in his electronica column, a healthy chunk of the future belongs to the turntablists, the DJs, the hip-hoppers. Jazz artists who avail themselves of electronica’s new sonic languages are doing the art form a service. This is something that guitarist Liberty Ellman, the founder of Red Giant Records, understands quite well. Madsen’s openness in this regard makes him an ideal new member of the Red Giant family.
Track Listing: 1. Interference 2. Metalhunden (The Metal Dog) 3. Little Q 4. No Dancing Allowed 5. After the Munchies 6. Crazy Dog Out the Window 7. Phobia 8. El Nino 9. Simple Song
Personnel: Thor Madsen, guitar; Douglas Yates, alto saxophone; Francois Moutin, bass; Ari Hoenig, drums