Guitarist Frode Kjekstad is a Norwegian who makes himself at home in the Big Apple on this splendid album with New York companions Dr. Lonnie Smith, Byron Landham, and special guest Eric Alexander. To me, there are few musical alliances more pleasing than a guitar/organ/drums trio that sounds terrific and swings like a metronome, as this one does. If there's anything that could enrich the partnership, that would certainly include inviting an eloquent and powerful tenor saxophonist such as Alexander to sit in, which Kjekstad does on four numbersStanley Turrentine's bluesy "Sugar and three of his svelte original compositions, "Prospect Park S.W., "Brooklyn Bound and "Over Easy.
Kjekstad has impressive chops and a warm, resonant sound, which Smith's Hammond B-3 complements superbly, while Landham keeps perceptive and tasteful time. Alexander fits in snugly on his cameos, broadening the trio's horizons while adding spice to the basic recipe. As for role models, Kjekstad drops a broad hint with the inclusion of Wes Montgomery's ambling "Road Song, on which he pays homage to Wes's groundbreaking style. Rounding out the admirable program are the standards "The Way You Look Tonight, "Secret Love, "Laura and of course, "Autumn in New York. I was especially charmed by the swaying, Jobim-like treatment of "Secret Love, which embodies typically persuasive solos by Kjekstad and Smith.
There's nothing Scandinavian about this refreshing studio date save for the leader's name. You may not be able to pronounce it, but if you appreciate special talent that's all you need consider. Leave the rest to Kjekstad and Company, whose music speaks emphatically for itself.
The Way You Look Tonight; Sugar; Autumn in New York; Prospect Park S.W.; Secret Love;
Brooklyn Bound; Laura; Road Song; Over Easy. (51:22)
Frode Kjekstad, guitar; Dr. Lonnie Smith, Hammond B-3 organ; Eric Alexander (2,4,6,9),
tenor sax; Byron Landham, drums.
All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.