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Knut Haugsoen: Step And A Half

Jim Santella By

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Pianist Knut Haugsoen has a knack for bringing like-minded artists together. A natural leader, he assembles artists who can interpret his plans and make them flow seamlessly through teamwork. The result is a listenable program that we find smooth; yet with plenty of substance. All save three tracks are Haugsoen's originals. He writes scenic melodies for the band to use as a framework. From there, the artists check in and out with smooth-flowing ideas. When applying counterpoint, a strong cohesiveness holds the voices together. When stretching out, each artist restrains to a point. The session's tone remains pretty and light. Ingrid Jensen, who appears on five tracks, is in fine form. Her sparkling tone and fluid articulation exemplify the band's focus: improvisation within specific bounds over a smooth landscape. Melody plays a large part. Mike Murley and Stefan Bauer bring unison lines gracefully together. A suave bossa tinge peppers the program. Slower articles, such as "Lagoon," lay out a placid setting with charming soprano sax and vibes ripples. Murley and Bauer weave intricate designs. Two quartet numbers, featuring Jensen and Bauer, respectively, pale in comparison. Better are the sextet numbers in which team interaction balances individual expression. Haugsoen's loping rhythms and natural melodies form a framework from which he elicits pleasurable jazz magic.

Track Listing: Win Win; Speak Low; Step and a Half; Play of Light; Out of this World; D

Personnel: Knut Haugsoen- piano, Fender Rhodes; Ingrid Jensen- trumpet, flugelhorn; Mike Murley- tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Geoff Young- guitar; Jim Vivian- bass; Ted Warren- drums; Stefan Bauer- vibraphone; Rick Lazar- percussion.

Title: Step And A Half | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Ram Records


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