Danish drummer-composer Terkel Nørgaard calls his new album with American trumpeter Ralph Alessi «a dream come true» and defines it as his «most important project to date». He is right. His collaboration with Alessi sounds as inspired as can be. Let’s hope that he may be wrong too. This gifted 36 years old musician can deliver many more memorable works. How about a follow-up to this fine album?
Alessi performed with Nørgaard and his partners in the Reverse trio – pianist Søren Gemmer and double bass player Jesper Thorn, in the summer of 2016, playing Nørgaard’s compositions for this ad-hoc quartet. The Reverse trio have collaborated before with trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg and with poet Jørgen Leth. Alessi, obviously, has far more extensive experience of collaborating with musician from both sides of the Atlantic, including releasing albums on European labels as the Italian Cam Jazz and the German ECM.
The seven distinct pieces of «With Ralph Alessi» are culled from a body of 21 untitled loose sketches, that became strong and coherent statements of the new quartet. Alessi enriches the reserved and often lyrical interplay of Nørgaard, Gemmer and Thorn with poetic depth and subtle yet rich nuances of the Great American Songbook. He also pushes the Danish trio into ‘outer’, unchartered territories. He sounds totally at home with the Danish trio, and, naturally, he is the main soloist on all pieces, but knows how to turn this project into a true collaborative one. You can sense the natural affinity between Alessi and the Danes on the emotional ballads «Seventeen» and «Twelve»; their organic interplay of this ad-hoc quartet on the free-improvised «Twentyone» and «Nineteen» or in the heavy rhythmic game of Alessi and Nørgaard on «Thirteen».
Terkel Nørgaard (dr), Ralph Alessi (Tp), Søren Gemmer (p), Jesper Thorn (b)