Monday, January 12, 2015

Kenneth Dahl Knudsen Group – Strings Attached (2010)

Kenneth Dahl Knudsen Group

Tomasz Dąbrowski - trumpet, balkan horn
Mads Lykke - alto saxophone
Jacob Danielsen - bass clarinet
Jens Ulrich Madsen - piano
Gilard Hekselman - guitar
Kenneth Dahl knudsen - bass
Rasmus Iversen - drums

Strings Attached

GATEWAY 2606

By Adam Baruch

This is the debut album by Danish Jazz bassist/composer Kenneth Dahl Knudsen, recorded with a septet he leads, which features the talents of two extraordinary upcoming Jazz musicians: the Polish trumpeter Tomasz Dąbrowski and Israeli guitarist Gilad Hekselman. The other members of the septet are pianist Jens Ulrich Madsen, saxophonist Mads Lykke, bass clarinetist Jacob Danielsen and drummer Rasmus Iversen. The album presents ten original compositions, all by Knudsen.

The music is typical modern European Jazz, with ambitious compositions, based on melodic themes but allowing for a large degree of freedom and expression. The Scandinavian atmosphere is strongly present, with most of the material being low key and strongly lyrical, but the compositions are diverse and intelligent enough to keep the music flowing and keep the listener absorbed. The level of the compositions, especially in view of the fact that this is a debut album, is surprisingly high and consistently excellent.

The individual performances as well as the ensemble playing are also quite superb, again unusually so for a debut album and the young age of the musicians involved. Both Dąbrowski and Hekselman play some truly scorching solos, which are extraordinary by any standard. Madsen plays mostly in the background, but his work is remarkably sensitive and I'd love to hear him play in a piano trio setting (like on the short "Interlude"). The rhythm section does a splendid job all the way through, with Knudsen filling the space with his powerful bass lines and Iversen displaying a very dynamic, yet nonintrusive driving power.

It is truly inspiring to hear such impressive music being made by such young musicians, which promises that the future of European Jazz is in very good hands. In the four years since this album was recorded both Dąbrowski and Hekselman already reached semi-stardom status on the upcoming scene and Knudsen managed to release a second album, also featuring Dąbrowski and Hekselman, which I have yet to hear.

This is definitely an outstanding debut worthy of praise and admiration. Hats off, Gentlemen!

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