Kammerat Orkester (Gateway Music; 2011)
Peter Fuglsang (clarinet)
Jakob Munck (trumpet, tuba, trombone)
Lars Andreas Haug (tuba)
John Edhe (cello)
Jakob Davidsen has been on the Danish scene for a long time now. It's a shame that more people internationally haven't had a chance to experience this highly inventive and expressionist composer and pianist. I personally have only just discovered him in the last few months and I have been immensely impressed.
His latest, Kammerat Orkester (Gateway Music) is an buoyant mixture of complex melodies and biting humor that reminded me of some of the larger scale Charles Mingus pieces. But as you take the long journey through this session you realize this is a composer and performer on the upswing with a lot to say.
The massive suite, "Le Roi et Le Mendiant I-IV" burst with vivid textures and complexities that move fluidly back and forth. Davidsen allows the musicians a great deal of freedom to mingle and converse while he lays out the path for which they follow close but with a great deal of expression. This is a beautiful piece that is both chamber music and improvised jazz. In the second movement, Davidsen's playing moves from gentle and passion to fierce and explosive with ease. In the third movement Davidsen gives more space to Fuglsang and Edhe to create a melodic calm before it holds you through to the blistering and frenetic conclusion of the fourth movement in which the quintet are almost ragtime in nature but abstract in thought. Great stuff.
The hauntingly beautiful waltz, "Valse Bleue Et Verte" is led by the soft keys of Davidsen and some touchingly deep work by Haug. Edhe's cello just underneath the melody makes for a romantic setting and adds emotion to the ending movements.
The two closing numbers "Silvo Martinello" and "Jeg Holder Af Hverdagen" have a more experimental nature about them. Davidsen's direction to the group seems to be "find your own path and make it exciting." The quintet do this superbly. There are moments of reflection midway through "Silvo Martinello," led by an heartfelt performances by Munck, Haug and Edhe. This is topped off by some blissful yet quiet touches by Davidsen. "Jeg Holder Af Hverdagen" feels like a Sylvie Courvoisier/Mark Feldman piece in its minimalistic outset and seems to be a perfect way to close out this adventure. Lots of quiet chords and space that eventually pulsates to black.
Kammerat Orkester may not be the first stop for most newcomers to Jakob Davidsen but it is definitely the most adventurous of his outings. There are complex themes and melodies wrapped around some sublime performances. Kammerat Orkester is forward thinking music from a growing talent that deserve much wider recognition. A must listen.