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ARTISTRY JAZZ GROUP

Too Darn Hot:
Together with Cole Porter

Volenza VMCD 102

 

 

1. Anything Goes
2. You Do Something To Me
3. What Is This Thing Called Love?
4. You're The Top
5. In The Still Of The Night
6. At Long Last Love
7. Down In The Depths Of The Ninetieth Floor
8. Dream Dancing
9. Too Darn Hot
10. After You, Who?
11. All Through The Night
12. It's All Right With Me
13. I Concentrate On You
14. From This Moment On
15. I Happen To Be In Love

Jan Lundgren - Piano
Jacob Fischer - Guitar
Hans Beckenroth - Bass
Johan Lofcrantz Ramsay - Drums
Vivian Buczek - Vocals (tracks 3, 6, 9, 12, 13)

 

After an initial fierce opposition to jazz in the 1930s, the Scandinavians were first at the post in the 1950s in recognising and adopting the new music of bebop. This period is now known in Scandinavia as "The Golden Age" and produced such international artists as Arne Domnerus, Rolf Erickson, Lars Gullin, Stan Hasselgard and Bengt Hallberg among many others.

Two generations in these countries still continue to produce superb jazz musicians. The evidence is on display on such albums as this one. Four award-winning players - Jan Lundgren (piano), Jacob Fischer (guitar), Hans Beckenroth (bass) and Johan Lofcrantz Ramsey (drums) together with Polish singer Vivian Buczek - have collaborated in a warm and reverent tribute to Cole Porter, a composer who, together with Gershwin and Berlin, provided much of the staple material for most of jazz improvisation.

The Artistry Jazz Group's approach is highly lyrical, combined with a kind of logical finesse which one associates with the Swedes and it is extremely attractive and does more than justice to the composer's work. On some of Porter's lesser tunes they actually give an added weight to his melodies.

Lundgren, a pianist whose feathery touch and a delivery that owes something to Erroll Garner, is an outstanding improviser as is Danish guitarist Fischer; the interplay between the two is hypnotic and the bass playing of Beckenroth is nothing less than majestic. Domnerus has gone so far as to classify him as "possibly the best bass player to come out of Sweden..ever".

One can rarely go wrong on Porter material but these versions of his "classics" are given fresh and vital treatments that bring a new appreciation of their quality. Even when a slow number such as All Through The Night is taken at a fast tempo, the lyricism is paramount.

It is tempting to list all the numbers as outstanding but Dream Dancing with its Debussy-like overtones and What's New? where the incredible musicianship is particularly arresting are standouts.

Vivian Buczek is impressive in her five vocals, with good phrasing, a clear identification with the lyrics and a confident delivery. She deserves to be better known.

As an example of an exemplary marriage of superior music with superb musicianship, this would be an excellent buy for both nostalgic and new listeners and even the most demanding jazz aficionados would be impressed.

John Martin



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