Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

6

Christian Vuust: Urban Hymn

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
Multi-reedist/composer Christian Vuust has been a mainstay of the Danish jazz scene for close to thirty years. A professor at the Royal Academy of Music in his hometown of Aarhus, Vuust has crafted a significant discography as leader, working with some of Denmark's best jazz musicians. Urban Hyms marks a departure for Vuust, being his first CD recorded outside Denmark. Recorded in a single day in New York, Jeff Ballard, Ben Street and Aaron Parks's sophisticated yet subtle support frames Vuust's original compositions, which draw deeply from European and American wells alike.

Danish psalms have heavily influenced Vuust—he's made five recordings in the Danish Psalm Duo with pianist Hans Esbjerg—and his warm tone and unhurried delivery owe as much to the simple melodic narrative of church song as they do the New York jazz tradition. In the main, fidelity to the tunes and their overriding ambiance outweigh overt shows of virtuosity and given the brief time together in the studio the quartet sounds remarkably tight. Bass, drums and piano sound as one on the first beat of "Helgenæs," the trio entering the spirit of the song without preamble. Vuust and Parks deliver gently sparkling solos, a prelude to a delightful saxophone/piano unison motif accompanied by Ballard's bewitching percussive accents.

Street, whose presence is felt as much as heard, instills a subtly bobbing rhythm on the laid back "Lærke," a feature for Parks, whose pristine solo is framed by Vuust's spare, melodic lines. Ballard switches to brushes on the softly hymnal title track, the slow contours of which emphasize the warmth in the saxophonist's phrasing. The tender ballad "Wedding Song" shares similar roots and features a teasingly brief intervention from Street. Ballard's processional fills conjure ceremony, contrasting with the emotive quality of Vuust and Park's playing.

Several numbers are inspired outright by Vuust's New York sojourn: the aptly named "Rubato NYC" is a ruminative piece notable for its spaciousness; greater rhythmic pulse imbues "Biking the Big Apple," with piano and bass vamps and propulsive drums doing the pedaling as Vuust's smoothly evolving lines cut a more impressionistic flow. Pianist and saxophonist work in close unison on the mellifluous "Tompkins Square Park"-a storied corner of Manhattan and one of the homes to the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival.

The intensity and emotional energy of the evocative "Fjer"—featuring another nuanced solo from Parks—may owe as much to New York's vibes as any of Vuust's other compositions. "Summer Bygone" is a traditional Inuit song from Greenland; Vuust collaborated with Swedish guitarist Tobias Sjogren on Northern Voices: The Thule Spirit (Virgin Records, 1997)—elaborate arrangements of Eskimo drum songs—and his balladic approach on this song from the Thule region is heartfelt and compelling.

Vuust's sensitive compositions and mellow tenor lines exert a subtle gravitational pull. The distillation of European church/folk song, East Coast jazz and Eskimo traditions is complete, rendering a seamless, lyrical voice inspired by cityscapes and spiritual expression. Urban hymns indeed.

Track Listing: Helgenæs; Lærke; Urban Hymn; Rubato NYC; Fjer; Wedding Song; Biking The Big Apple; Tompkins Square Park; Summer Bygone.

Personnel: Christian Vuust: tenor saxophone; Aaron Parks: piano; Ben Street: bass; Jeff Ballard: drums.

Title: Urban Hymn | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Self Produced


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read "Live At The Troubadour 1969" CD/LP/Track Review Live At The Troubadour 1969
by Sacha O'Grady
Published: January 14, 2017
Read "The Way Home" CD/LP/Track Review The Way Home
by Joe Gatto
Published: November 23, 2017
Read "Live" CD/LP/Track Review Live
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 9, 2017
Read "I'll Tell You Later In December" CD/LP/Track Review I'll Tell You Later In December
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 4, 2017
Read "Baby Talk" CD/LP/Track Review Baby Talk
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 14, 2017
Read "Blooming Tall Phlox" CD/LP/Track Review Blooming Tall Phlox
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 23, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!