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Ulf Wakenius: Notes from the Heart

Brian P. Lonergan By

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Ulf Wakenius: Notes from the Heart In the liner notes to Notes from the Heart, Ulf Wakenius' tribute to the compositions of Keith Jarrett, the Swedish guitarist states, "It's impossible to recreate his music—you can only approach it from a totally different angle. But rather than a radical reworking of Jarrett's music or a reproduction of his far-ranging solo trips, Wakenius has distilled many of Jarrett's signature shorter compositions to their essence, presenting them in respectful arrangements (mostly around the four-minute mark) that fans of Jarrett's work will recognize quickly.

In doing so, he has created an appealing and accessible trio album that showcases both Jarrett's composing talents and the guitarist's own skill for arranging and soloing. Notes from the Heart also benefits from the efforts of Jan Erik Kongshaug, Jarrett's longtime recording engineer for ECM, to achieve the superior sound quality associated with that label.

That faithful approach begins with the first track, "Memories of Tomorrow (also known as the final movement to Jarrett's seminal Köln Concert, from 1983), and continues through the minor-key, funky ostinato of "Dancing, from the Standards Trio's live album Changeless (ECM, 1989). Over the repetitive vamp laid down by Morten Lund (drums) and Lars Danielsson (piano, bass), Wakenius lets fly his own rapid runs that recall Jarrett's darting right-hand lines but reveal the guitarist's personal voice as well.

The trio delivers a gorgeously restrained rendition of "Innocence, the wistful ballad from the Jarrett European quartet's live Tokyo recording Personal Mountains (ECM, 1979). On the kinetic "The Windup from Jarrett's classic '70s album Belonging, the trio again is as true as can be to the original, letting the immensely catchy melody and tricky rhythm and chord progression speak for themselves, while receiving new life in the acoustic guitar trio treatment. The gentle lullaby "Mon Coeur Est Rouge, from the French film of the same name, and "U-Dance, a tropical-flavored groove, are also highlights.


Track Listing: Memories of Tomorrow; Dancing; Innocence; The Windup; My Song; Mon Coeur Est Rouge; Everything That Lives Laments; The Cure; So Tender; U-Dance; Prayer.

Personnel: Ulf Wakenius: acoustic guitars; Lars Danielsson: bass, cello, piano; Morten Lund: drums.

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: ACT Music | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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