Danish pianist Simon Toldam has made his mark as an abundantly creative improviser, most recently manifest on his work with Waysa duo comprised of saxophonist Brodie West and drummer Evan Cartwright. Their Fortunes (Lorna Records, 2020) was an album defined by unusual gestures and subtle refractions, keeping the listener guessing throughout. Toldam's latest release, Tak for dit brev (the title translates as "Thank You For Your Letter") isn't as overtly adventurous, but it still possesses plenty of quiet charm, and is perhaps even more endearing for its soft-hued, tranquil beauty.
Used here in various configurations, Toldam's partnersbassists Georg Riedel and Anders Christensen, cornetist Tobias Wiklund, and bass clarinetist Nils Bergmesh wonderfully in support of Toldam's simple melodic figures. But the music is anything but simple, as it leaves room for Toldam's trademark appreciation of timbre and texture to surface. Berg's role is pivotal, as the recording captures his deep, earthy tone perfectly; his jaunty contributions to the waltz-like "Nu Sejler Vi" give the track its joyful buoyancy. Elsewhere his plaintive, lonesome lament brings somber color to the pensive "Måneløb." And while all five musicians do not often appear together here, they do on the opener, "Mor," and it is a transfixing moment, with the two basses playing complementary roles (one arco, the other a spartan pizzicato) and Berg conjoined with Toldam, who opens the cut on clarinet before transitioning to piano, thereby making room for Wiklund to emerge potently as the second horn.
The pianist's fluidity and melodic sensibility on "Opdrift" give it the feel of a Keith Jarrett piece, while "Godmorgen træ" (again with Toldam on clarinet) evinces an austere tenderness which effaces any concern with virtuosity and simply allows the listener to succumb to the piece's lyrical enchantments. What gives the album its unifying vision is Toldam's sensitivity to nuance and restraint, letting the music, rather than the performers, take center stage. And his compositions have the richness and depth to warrant such an approach.
Mor; Nu Sejler VI; Måneløb; Luft; Et Postkort; Opdrift; Den Blå Stol; Albert´s Tic Tac; Godmorgen træ; Gå Gå Gå; Dansk Kulturarv; To Virkeligheder.