Danish tenor sax player-composer-conductor Claus Waidtløw was inspired by Antonio Vivaldi’s «The Four Seasons» so he composed an orchestral work for the Aarhus Jazz Orchestra (AJO) based on the changing of the seasons. Like Vivaldi’s four violin concerti, Waidtløw composed four movements, each one presenting one soloist, and all attempting to capture the distinct mood and colors of each season in its many Danish manifestations.
Waidtløw, known for his collaborations with American jazz musicians like Carla Bley, John Scofield and Christian McBride, is a former member of AJO and knows well the strengths of this acclaimed orchestra and its fine soloists. Waidtløw has composed before works for big bands – «Playhouse» for the Danish Bigband The Orchestra and American drummer Jeff Ballard (Gateway, 2015) and «Apples for Adam» for AJO and American drummer Adam Nussbaum (AJO, 2016). On «The Seasons» Waidtløw hosts Spanish drummer Jorge Rossy, known from the Brad Mehldau Trio, and Danish double bass player Daniel Frank. «The Seasons» was recorded in early 2020 at Finland Studio in Aarhus.
The lush, nuanced compositions and orchestral arrangements of Waidtløw new suite radiate strong feelings and insightful fascination of one who marvels at nature’s changing lights and shadows. The «Spring» movement, with soloist, pianist Mads Bærentzen, is the most optimistic one here, celebrating the renewal of nature and suggesting the clear longing for warmer, brighter days. «Summer» begins with a short segment of quiet and patient meditation about calibrating the «Expectations» for this elusive season – in Danish definition of it as a real summer – but soars playfully on its second part, «Happy Holiday», led by a soulful solo of tenor sax player Michael Bladt.
A short solo of Frank, titled «September», leads to the «Autumn» movement, with its soloists, trumpeter Lars Søberg on the first part «October», and tenor sax player Cesar Joaniquet on its second part «Morning Mist». This beautiful piece articulates the inevitable melancholy of the shorter, chilly days but enjoying the warmth and camaraderie of staying inside homes. The trio of Waidtløw, Frank and Rossy play a short impressionist, lyrical interlude «December», before the last «Winter» movement. This touching and obviously, melancholic at times piece, with Waidtløw’s singing sax as the main soloist, captures faithfully the dark, dramatic atmosphere but insists on the merits of the freezing season (again, in Danish terms).
Claus Waidtløw (ts), Daniel Frank (b), Jorge Rossy (dr), Kati Brien (s), Johan Toftegaard Knudsen (s), Michael Bladt (s), Cesar Joaniquet (s), Michael Olsen (s), Lars Vissing (tp), Jan L Sørensen (tp), Lars Søberg (tp), Jakob Sørensen (tp), Stefan Ringive (tb), Tobias Stavngaard (tb), Niels Jakob Nørgaard (tb), Jakob Ringsmose (tb), Mads Bærentzen (p)