CD review: Søren Gemmer

SG_front300X300At First
(ILK 202CD)

Gemmer is a Danish pianist and his quartet has Per Møllehøj on guitar, Andreas Fryland on drums and Tapani Toivanen.

Most of the compositions are the leader’s , though guitarist and drummer contribute one apiece. It has the feeling of an ECM disc but with a more upfront sound and more attack in the playing.

Gemmer says: “On the majority of the compositions I have merged my love and awe of late romantic and modern classical composers with the improvisation, the sound and the formal concepts of modern jazz.”

Soren Gemmer (second left) and his band.

Soren Gemmer (second left) and his band.

But whereas many of those ECM players moved from a classical background into jazz, Gemmer it seems, moved a little the other way. He continues:

“When the need to express and deal with the highs and lows of life imposed itself heavily on me a few years ago, I found myself restricted by what I knew as a jazz pianist.”

The third track here, Stay Silent, is a tribute to the inspiration and direction he gained from immersion in Prokofiev’s Visions Fugitives No.1, for example. And it’s a real beauty, with a a forceful improvisation which grows out of, and finally returns to, a strong but delicately framed melody.

It’s just one example of many joys to be found on this disc. The band feels really integrated, the flow of the music is natural and effortless, the players are eloquent without ever being fussy. Guitar and piano are blended most skilfully in the arrangements, too.

And let’s hear it for Dutch sound engineer Chris Weeda – he does their rich sound full justice. It sounds wonderful.

This is apparently a debut album, which I find hard to believe. It sounds more like a mature work from a composer clear about his direction and having moved a few stations down the line already. You are unlikely to find this in your local record shop (little joke, there!) but it is available on Amazon and iTunes, and it really is worth seeking out.

And visit Søren Gemmer’s website here.



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