Recording Roundup 2 by Stanley Fefferman

Torben Waldorf. WAH-WAH. ArtistShare. 2012.
Torben Waldorf, Gary Versace, Matt Clohesy, Jon Wikan.

Danish guitarist Torben Waldorf is making a virtue of necessity in his fourth album for ArtistShare: he’s taken the saxophone out of the sonic picture and is giving his guitar full melodic responsibility. Waldorf’s melodic chops as a composer/improviser are evident from his first composition, the straight-up jazz tune “Circle and Up.” He works the melody in high register, ripping along on incrementally repeated electronic riffs backed by Gary Versace on keyboards. “ You Here” is a 10 minute number with a long, strong bass solo by Matt Clohesy. The mellow lyric tune is in the style of Johnny Smith except that Waldorf adds a little ‘wah-wah’ at the end of his lines. “Fat#2” features Jon Wikan sticking-ticking a percussive intro that makes a nice wait for the hypnotic melody when it comes in flat and cool. “Poolside” swings with a bossa nova inflection through long runs on guitar and B3. Lots of very fast fingering on tunes generally more familiar sounding than new.

Matt Herscowitz.UPSTAIRS. Justin Time Records Inc. 2012. Recorded live at Upstairs Jazz Bar in Montreal.

Tuning in without looking at the jacket I hear behind the jazz improv solo piano stylings a romantically flavoured classical vibe that turns out to be a tune the lately lamented Dave Brubeck wrote in homage to Chopin, and sure enough a few tracks later there is Herskowitz’s rendition of Schumann’s “Traumerei.” The setlist of standards, originals, and classical arrangements have a live feeling, a bit on the schmaltzy side, and if you don’t mind the “sunrise-sunset” tenderly tinkling on the keys Liberace feeling, Matt Herskowitz offers a menu of varied and  interesting improv flavours, shifting rhythms, tempos and a kind of out-front virtuosity. “Waltz in Moscow” is a dark, dissonant, slightly minor offering with impressionist textures over hard edges. Michel Petrucianni’s “Cantabile” shifts the mood to a more show-tune vibe with ripply embellishments touched by ‘boogie’ and ‘stride’. Herskowitz is an entertainer you can listen to even through the rattle of dishes and dinnerware around “Taumerei”. His introductions are clever: out of single-note melody slow-dripping into deep pool arises an 11 minute version of “But Not For Me.” And an exotic, florid, broken-up-every-which-way dissonant craziness delightfully emerges as “I’ve Got Rhythm” that makes you want to applaud.

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