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Portraits in Jazz is a Danish quartet featuring some of the most prominent local jazz musicians, all well-versed with the jazz legacy on both sides of the Atlantic – pianist Nikolaj Hess, sax player Claus Waidtløw, double bass player Anders «AC» Christensen and drummer Jakob Høyer. All four musicians played with each other many times before in different formats and outfits, with Waidtløw and Hess resuming their musical collaboration, dating back to the end of the 80s. Monday is the sophomore album of this quartet, following last year’s Sunday.

The title of the quartet is a homage to the iconic standards album of Bill Evans with his classic trio, double bass player Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian, Portrait in Jazz (Riverside 1959), and Waidtløw and Christensen played with Evans’ close associates Eddie Gomez and Motian. Monday continues the chamber jazz atmosphere of Sunday, and in a way, it corresponds with Evans’ legacy, but with a touch of Nordic melancholy.

The ten pieces, nine ballads penned by Hess, Christensen and Waidtløw and one standard, Victor Young’s playful «Golden Earrings» (made famous by Peggy Lee), highlight the deep affinity of the four musicians and the emphatic, generous and singing dynamics, always serving the lyrical, melodic themes with commanding elegance and beauty. The atmosphere, like on Sunday, is calm and contemplative, stressing the subtle dramatic nuances of each piece allowing the listeners to dive gently into their own warm hygge pleasures and forget about their daily worries.

Eyal Hareuveni 

Nikolaj Hess (p), Claus Waidtløw (s), Anders «AC» Christensen (b), Jakob Høyer (dr)

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