Album reviews

Jakob Dinesen/Anders Christensen/ Laust Sonne – ‘Moonlight Drive’

Jakob Dinesen/Anders Christensen/ Laust Sonne – Moonlight Drive

(April Records. Album review by Jon Turney)

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A new saxophone trio release has to be a bit special to stand out from the hundreds already out there. But the format has affordances that still draw artists, and listeners. The exposed role of the saxophonist with just bass and drums for company allows a player to perform, as it were, unhampered – save by the weight of all the masters who have gone before. The onus is on the horn to keep spinning interesting lines, acknowledging a great tradition while not getting mired in cliche and avoiding longueurs. And when the lead voice rises to that level, the listener can focus intently on the way a musician’s thoughts unfold.

This session from the Danish trio of Jakob Dinesen (sax), Anders Christensen (bass) and Laust Sonne (drums) is a worthy addition to the genre on all counts. It’s a follow-up to a lockdown-engendered recording from 2020, when these three old friends got together to play trio, sharing their delight in tunes like Charlie Haden’s Sandino and Eddie Harris’ Freedom Jazz Dance as well as a few originals.

On the new one there are compositions from each player, and in performance plenty of space for all of them, especially the bassist, (and a brief contribution on one track from Sonne on alto sax). However, it is Dinesen who reclaims one’s attention as soon as he takes up the horn again – most theme statements and the bulk of the soloing are his. He has a way with soft ballads, but there is plenty of timbral variation, with a more assertive sound when he wants to increase the tension in a solo. He can deliver flurries of notes, mainly on the occasional up tempo efforts such as the driving, boppish Blue Ace, but spends more time emphasising the quality of the horn’s sound on slower pieces.

Thus, the prevailing mood is reflective, with the general atmosphere leaning more toward thoughtful development rather than flights of passion. The bassist, probably best known for his excellent 2009 session as leader, Dear Someone, with Aaron Parks and Paul Motian, deepens that mood effectively, and Sonne is a model of taste and restraint.

Any habitual jazz listener will find plenty of reference points. I was reminded at different times of trios with Rollins – especially on Fela, which references afrobeat but also recalls early sixties SonnyJoe Henderson, Joe Lovano, and Andy Sheppard, among others. Dinesen delivers that difficult item, a convincing Ornette Coleman style solo, on the freebop leaning title track Moonlight Drive, which begins dreamily with tenor and alto in unison before picking up the pace when Sonne reverts to the drum set. Overall, the mix is personal enough to be distinctive, and the results consistently interesting. Not a world-changing album (are there any these days?) but a very pleasing one. I had not come across Dinesen before this release, but very happy to have made his acquaintance.

Jon Turney writes about jazz, and other things, from Bristol. Twitter: @jonwturney

LINK: Moonlight Drive on Bandcamp

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