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The debut album of Danish double double bass player Nicolai Kaas Claesson offers a fresh, but sometimes even nostalgic perspective of last century’s seventies jazz. Claesson main inspirations are the powerful space jazz of Sun Ra Arkestra, balanced with the intimate, subtlety of Ahmad Jamal and the clever, abstractions of Keith Jarrett. Claesson wanted to create a sonic melting pot where his loose yet melodic themes allow an unspoiled spontaneity, that in its turn leads to powerful improvisations.

Claesson is known from local groups as the Horse Orchestra, Dødens Garderobe, The Hum and New Kids. He gathered for his newly-founded quartet with like-minded, strong personalities – sax player Jeppe Højgaard, known from The Black Nothing group, pianist Rasmus Kjær Larsen, member of Klimaforandringer and Under Byen bands, and drummer Anders Vestergaard, who plays in Jacob Anderskov Kinetics and in Yes Deer. The quartet recorded «Melt» on a one day session on December 2017 at a small studio on the island of Amager in Copenhagen. The plan was simple: six straight forward compositions, captured by producer Rune Lohse – who has played before with Claesson as the drummer of Horse Orchestra and Dødens Garderobe – directly to his 8 track reel-to-reel tape recorder.

«Melt» strong, melodic spirit owes much to sound of Jarrett’s legendary American Quartet (with tenor sax player Dewey Redman, double bass player Charlie Haden and drummer Paul Motian), especially Claesson with his singing tone, often distilling the essence of his themes in brief, playful solos, as on «Copper». «Kaptajn Penalhus» let Højgaard fly high and drive the quartet to space-funk stratosphere. The main piece, «Gubban» (titled after Swedish author Astrid Lindgren’s heroine, Pippi Longstocking’s horse), offered also with an alternate take, emphasizes the close interplay of this quartet, already as of a working band with an extensive mileage. This piece plays with simple chord progressions, explored again and again by the quartet. «Astrid» is the most emotional piece here, suggesting a delicate balance between the loose, passionate interplay and careful articulation of the beautiful, lyrical theme.

Eyal Hareuveni

Nicolai Kaas Claesson (b), Jeppe Højgaard (as, cl), Rasmus Kjær Larsen (p), Anders Vestergaard (dr)

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