The new quartet of pianist Nikolaj Hess, sax player Claus Waidtløw, double bass player Anders «AC» Christensen and drummer Jakob Høyer may be considered as a super-group of the Danish jazz scene. These four musicians collaborated with each other in different formats and outfits, with Waidtløw and Hess resuming their musical collaboration, dating back to the end of the 80s. The quartet performed at the 2019 edition of Copenhagen Jazz Festival and «Portraits in Jazz – Sunday» is its debit album.
The spirit of the album fits perfectly a lazy and quiet Sunday afternoon. Hess, AC and Waidtløw composed eight melancholic yet intriguing ballads. But the beauty of «Portraits in Jazz – Sunday» relies not only on the elegant and soulful melodies but on the emphatic and subtle dynamics, the introspective, emotional dramas and the clear joy of playing together and finding deeper nuances in each melody.
The interplay is relaxed and generous. Waidtløw and Hess are obviously the main soloists and both are gifted and highly attentive melodists, with a great sense of lyricism. But this is a democratic band, and AC and Høyer are one of the most finest rhythm section and offer precise and articulate rhythmic support to the sublime themes.
Beautiful, evocative and caressing songs like «Clouds», «Ingrid» or «Melancholia» (and Hess composed the score for Lars von Trier’s «Melancholia») are guaranteed to linger in your mind, long after the relatively short «Portraits in Jazz – Sunday» is over.
Nikolaj Hess (p), Claus Waidtløw (s), Anders «AC» Christensen (b), Jakob Høyer (dr)