Chronologically speaking, The Heat’s On
is the first of eight generally rewarding albums delivered to our front door in September courtesy of the affable Jens Klüver, conductor of Denmark’s admirable Klüvers Big Band. It was recorded live in July ’94 during the appropriately named “Ridehuset Swinger” concerts, a part of the Aarhus International Jazz Festival, with guests Jesper Thilo (tenor sax) and Finn Ziegler (violin). The KBB has since released seven other albums that we are appraising elsewhere according to the labels for whom they were recorded (four including this one). A ninth disc is presumably no longer available but Klüver is planning yet another to mark the band’s soon–to–arrive twenty–fifth anniversary. On this concert date the ensemble is perhaps a step or so removed from the best America has to offer, but it’s a short step, and Ziegler and Thilo, two of Denmark’s foremost Jazz artists, help close the gap. Besides soloing on seven of ten selections, Ziegler wrote two (“La Fontaine Blues,” “You Be Hanged”), each of which is thoroughly charming. Even though I’ve never been an ardent admirer of Jazz violin, I must concede that Ziegler plays about as well as one can and speaks in his own distinctive voice. Thilo, while more derivative, is a natural swinger whose clear, resonant sound and impetuous nature remind one of Johnny Griffin, Lockjaw Davis, Gene Ammons or Hank Mobley. Each has his own ballad feature (Ziegler, “Willow Weep for Me”; Thilo, “Body and Soul”) and they’re heard together on “La Fontaine Blues,” “Just Friends,” “Take a Ladder,” “All of Me” and Sonny Rollins’ “St. Thomas.” Thilo crafts high–powered solos on the title selection and Ferde Grofé’s “On the Trail,” Ziegler (with guitarist Søren Bo Addemos) on “You Be Hanged.” Other soloists from the KBB are pianist Lisbeth Ivers (“La Fontaine Blues”), bassist Jens Jefsen (“Just Friends”), Addemos (“Take a Ladder,” “All of Me”), soprano “Chappe” Jensen, drummer Tommy Nissen and percussionist Steen Råhauge (“St. Thomas”). Klüver has managed to keep much of the band’s personnel intact through these many years, and that’s a definite plus, as the stability breeds confidence and rapport. The bottom line: one of the most impressive big bands you’ve probably never heard.
Contact:Klüvers Big Band, Karetmagergaarden, Graven 25, Denmark 80000. Phone +45 86 20 16 88; e–mail [email protected]; web site, www.cdjazz.com