CD review: Nikolaj Hess


The Danish pianist divides his time between Copenhagen and New York and this disc finds him in the company of two familiar players from the latter’s Downtown scene, double bassist Tony Scherr and drummer Kenny Wollesen.

From the start, a slow, pensive reading of Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love, this single day in a Brooklyn recording studio feels like time well spent.

Nikolaj Hess

Nikolaj Hess

With the exception of another Dylan (Masters Of War) and Duke Ellington’s Cottontail, the compositions are all Hess’s.

Film (he does quite a lot of work for cinema) has a simple but compelling tune, and Scherr and Wollesen (he favours mallets) give it a deeply spacious groove, and Black & White continues that mood into slightly more sombre areas as befitting its monochromatic nature.

Masters has a circling left-hand line, which lets Scherr add the colour while Wollesen explores his cymbals.

Sept 2010 has a light formality after the freedom of Improv, while Cottontail features a funky left-hand riff which forms the basis for a fine bass solo and makes the well-worn song new again, and Social Call has a sunny African feel to it.

Overall, a lovely album, assured in its clean plainness and space, full of light and clarity of purpose.

Categories: CD review

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