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The often thriving Danish Jazz scene remains somewhat of a mystery to many over here in the USA. Recent recordings by Pierre Dorge and his excellent “New Jungle Orchestra”, “The Crossover Ensemble” and a bunch of hip cats performing the music of legendary saxophonist John Tchicai on a 1999 release titled, Moonstone Journey serve as glowing examples of this thoroughly inventive and enterprising music scene. With that, we bring you the new release from a hot band brimming with savvy and artistic ingenuity who amusingly go by the moniker of... “When Granny Sleeps”. With three previous releases to their credit, this band features some of the top talent in Denmark. On Welcome cornetist Kaspar Tranberg, guitarist Niclas Knudsen, bassist Nils Davidsen and drummer Anders Mogensen blaze forth with raw electric power and funk/jazz grooves that might send tingles down your spine.
The amazing synergy and quite novel approach takes precedence from the opening moments of the first track, titled “Spirit” as Nils Davidsen’s pumping electric bass lines provoke tricky time signatures along with lofty unison choruses that evoke an in-your-face attitude. Throughout, Tranberg’s rousing and often-heated cornet performances counterbalance Knudsen’s gutsy electric guitar phrasings and the impacting rhythms set down by Davidsen and Mogensen. The title track, “Welcome” rings of Ornette Coleman’s – harmolodic - concepts as the musicians turn up the volume a bit with a fiery and very electrified performance which includes sweeping drums, powerful unison lines from Tranberg and Knudsen along with a lyrically rich bass solo by Davidsen. On “Aluminum (7.57%)” the musicians pursue hard-edged funk yet maintain a loose airy vibe through clean fluid lines and scathing choruses as Tranberg’s sharp, ringing cornet work and guitarist Niclas Knudsen’s modulating yet often punishing attack press onward in sinewy fashion. An additional treat here is Davidsen’s dexterous electric wah-wah bass solo as the musicians craftily meld 70’s electric Miles type motifs with contemporary ideas that skirt the fringes of modern jazz, which is also exemplified on the composition titled, “Alphabet Call”. Here, it would be difficult not to contemplate Miles Davis’ classic electric funk-rock-fusion recording, Jack Johnson as Tranberg’s flaming cornet soloing steers the potent backbeat, aggressively performed grooves and rapid chord progressions via enticingly imaginative lines. “Consequences” boasts fuzz distortion guitar and bass, maniacal synthesized voices and free-jazz cornet soloing along with a memorable theme while “Short Notice” instills a nice interlude via pensive interplay and thoughtful thematic development.
Welcome is a magnificent recording and one of the major finds of this young millennium! When viewed as an entity or whole, “When Granny Sleeps” is all about a group of talented musicians who have done their homework and digested disparate musical forms while concurrently molding a unique sound, demeanor and group orientated sense of well-being. Without a doubt, these musicians have the right stuff, yet it is what they are doing with their intrinsic abilities that translates into this winning formula so enthusiastically portrayed on Welcome ! Highly Recommended. * * * * * (Excellent)