Danish producer, arranger, and double bass player Tomas Raae created his first solo album «His Name Is John» with a clear intention, to offer a reflective experience shaped by history, esoteric spirituality, wonder, and hope, and a starting point for a deeper listening experience and reflection process. And he adds; «The music gives me a feeling of being taken to another country, a country where everyday life is slower and calmer and where the sun burns strongly. It is the sound of walking in a desert – both a physical walk, but also a mental walk as the music with the simple and effective exotic harmonies insistently calls for; that one relaxes and lets the mind wander».
This introduction explains why Raae chose titles for his compositions that reference the Old and New Testaments. Or why Raae mentions that he was inspired by the deeply spiritual albums of John Coltrane’s «A Love Supreme» (Impulse!, 1965), Alice Coltrane’s «Transcendence» (Warner Bros., 1977), and in particular Charlie Haden’s «Closeness Duets» (A&M, 1976). Raae worked on «His Name Is John» for two years, during a period of study and reflection based on a series of conversations and readings as well as a trip to Southern France.
Raae introduces «His Name Is John» with the lyrical, beautiful melody of the minimalist and quiet «Yochanan», intensified by Canberk Ulas’s Middle-Eastern duduk. The following «Qasr el-Yahud», titled after the baptism site of Jesus by John the Baptist in the Jordan river, adds subtle field recordings to the meditative, devotional kind of double bass playing. «Maria» is a duet between the atmospheric bass playing of Raae and melancholic clarinets of Tine Vitkov and Emil Goldsmith. «Fear Not, Zecharia» continues the contemplative, melancholic vein of the previous piece, but shifts into a delicate and playful duet of Raae’s bass and clarinet. This compelling journey ends with «Elijah» that highlights the double bass of Raae.
This kind of naked, innocent music leaves enough room for the listener to reflect and meditate on the elusive power of music and spiritual art at all in our lives.
Tomas Raae (b, bowed g), Tine Vitkov (cl), Emil Goldsmith (cl), Canberk Ulas (duduuk), Victor Dybbroe (perc), Jakob Thorkild Overgaard (quiet noise from guitar, ambient actual sounds, samp)