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Saxomania, Denmark’s answer to SuperSax, consists of five saxophonists, one rhythm section, and a generous storehouse of musical talent. In a word, these gentlemen can play! And what they choose to play is music that is consistently bright and charming. Music that “doesn’t push any limits,” as the liner notes affirm, “nor does it pretend to. But it’s a downright pleasure to listen to. . . .Serious fun, you might say.” It’s a fun–loving group that has earned its r&r after paying dues for many years in big bands and other groups all over Denmark. The senior member, seventy–six–year old Bent “Stork” Nielsen, was a mainstay for many years in the Danish Radio Jazz Group and Radio Big Band after having played with ensembles led by Peter Rasmussen, Bruno Henriksen and Otto Lington, and his section–mates carry roughly comparable credentials. The group’s youngest member, drummer Jan Schiopffe (born 1950), is the son of William Schiopffe (1928–81), one of Denmark’s leading Jazz drummers of the ’50s and ’60s. Pianist Stephen Howe (replaced by Holger Larsen on Benny Carter’s “We Were in Love”) is the group’s only “import,” having relocated to Denmark some years ago from his native England. Howe is the featured soloist on ”Saxidentally,” “A Ballad for Five” and “Easy Does It.” He’s a keen and resourceful improviser, as are the front–liners, each of whom frames a number of concise yet impressive statements. While doing so they have fun with Sonny Rollins (Jorgen Borch’s “Epoxy,” a close cousin of Sonny’s “Doxy”), George Shearing (Lennie Niehaus’ “From Minor to Major,” based on “Lullaby of Birdland”) and others. Niehaus wrote seven of the charts, Borch four others to complement Carter’s ballad (transcribed by Palle Bolvig) and the lone standard, “’Deed I Do.” As Thorbjorn Sjogren adds in the liner notes, this is music “that is meant to be enjoyed rather than analyzed. Rich in melody, uncluttered voicings, short and well–focused solos and a laid–back, irresistible swing.” We couldn’t have summmarized it more accurately ourselves.
Track Listing: Saxidentally; Dear Bill; A Ballad for Five; Epoxy; Photo Finish; The Enchanting Miss Nordin; Easy Does It; Mariposa Grove; From Minor to Major;
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.