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Matthew Ruddick

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Author of Funny Valentine, an acclaimed new biography of the jazz trumpet player and singer, Chet Baker.
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Saturday, 08 December 2018 21:20

Lars Danielsson and Paolo Fresu – Summerwind

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Delightful duo album by two of Europe's finest.

This is the first studio collaboration between two of Europe’s finest, most lyrical musicians – Swedish bass player Lars Danielsson and Italian trumpet player Paolo Fresu. The recording session was the suggestion of ACT supremo, Siggi Loch, and as one would expect, this is an inspired pairing. Both musicians seem to have come prepared, with fresh musical dishes to bring to the table. Indeed, the album primarily consists of original compositions, which may explain how fresh it sounds.

That being said, the album opens with a cover version, a fragile read of the classic Autumn Leaves. Fresu plays with the same tender lyricism as Miles here, but the sparse accompaniment, courtesy of Danielsson, makes this version particularly delicate.

Saluto Dardamente is an original by Fresu that demonstrates both his skill as a composer, and the lovely, soft tone of his playing. There’s more than a hint of late-era Chet Baker here, and that’s no bad thing.

Le Matin was composed by Danielsson, and almost sounds like a sister-piece to Autumn Leaves, with Fresu switching to muted trumpet here.

Danielsson’s compositions have often drawn on folk music, as well as jazz and classical, and those folk influences come through on Stilla Storm, a more up-temp tune. Next up is a traditional, Jag Lyfter Ögat Mot Himmelen, which was arranged by the bass player. It features some subtle electronic effects on Fresu’s trimpet, which work well. It also highlight the exceptional recording, which captures every nuance of Danielsson’s bass solo.

Dardusó was improvised live, in the studio, with the two musicians playing beautifully off of one another. Danielsson has played in regular duos over the years, or course – most notably with  Polish pianist Leszek Możdżer, but also with his wife, Cæcilie Norby. “It’s about doing the right thing at the right time,” he notes. “That’s the challenge of playing in a duo. You can’t hide behind other instruments in this configuration.”

Sleep Safe and Warm is new to me, but was from the movie, Rosemary’s Baby. Fresu’s playing is exquisite, never over-playing, and there’s a lovely cello solo by Danielsson, too. 

Wachet Auf, Ruft uns die Stimme was composed by Bach, and arranged by Danielsson, and works well as a duet in this format, blurring the distinction between chamber jazz and classical music. De La Solitude Mesurée, a quite beautiful original by Fresu, brings the album to a close.

Summerwind is every bit as good as one would hope; both musicians are lovers of melody, and as musicians, choose the notes they play with great care. As the liner notes say, “some people talk a lot, whereas others keep hold of what is important, and only need a few words to get to their point.” 

 

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