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Christian Winther: Soul House

John Barron By

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Influenced by tenor saxophone giants Charlie Rouse, Paul Gonsalvez and Dexter Gordan, Danish-born musician Christian Winther improvises with a soulful, hard-bop edge, reveling in the joyous traditions associated with his instrument. The New Orleans-based saxophonist assembles a spirited quintet for Soul House, his third release as a leader.

Winther's deep-toned tenor lines are well developed with heartfelt flourishes. His lyrical twists and turns on the Kenny Kirkland ballad "Dienda," the lesser-known Thelonious Monk swinger "Green Chimneys" and the title track stand out as the session's more inspired moments.

A truly collaborative effort, Soul House is as much a showcase for trumpeter Marcus Printup, pianist Richard Doran Johnson, bassist Carlos Henriquez and drummer Ali Jackson as it is for Winther. Johnson and Jackson even contribute original compositions to the date—Jackson's spirited "Aziel Danse" is another highlight of the session.

Printup is dazzling throughout, blowing soaring bebop lines ("Milla's Bounce") and Freddie Hubbard-inspired jabs ("Ones of Freedom," "Ferris Wheel"). Johnson proves a sensitive accompanist ("For Kenny") and imaginative soloist ("Ferris Wheel"). Henriquez and Jackson are a rock-solid bass/drum combination, each given ample opportunity to shine.

Soul House is full of feel-good moments, memorable themes and intuitive ensemble interplay. With it, Winther and crew deliver an exceptional set of accessible, mainstream jazz.

Track Listing: Milla's Bounce; For Kenny; Aziel Dance; Ones Of Wisdom; Ferris Wheel; Dienda; Green Chimneys; Soul House.

Personnel: Christian Winther: tenor saxophone; Marcus Printup: trumpet; Richard Doran Johnson; Carlos Henriquez: bass; Ali Jackson: drums.

Title: Soul House | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: SteepleChase Records

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