2008 Copenhagen Jazz Festival
The outdoor venue had most folks sitting rather uncomfortably on the cobblestone street, but the music more than made up for the rear discomfort. Kjaergaard switched between acoustic piano to electric keyboards comfortably, while Blake played both tenor and soprano saxophones separately and together ala Rahsaan Roland Kirk. However, it was another tenor/soprano saxophonist Lucky Thompson that Blake took inspiration from in an ongoing project of his which has recently materialized into a new recordingThe World Awakes: A Tribute to Lucky Thompson (Stunt). From perhaps one of Thompson's better-known and classic albums, Lucky Strikes (Prestige, 1964), Blake re-arranged two Lucky originals included in his group's repertoire, breathing new life into each "Reminiscent" and "Mumba Neua." And his incorporation of the classical element with violin and cello came off as much more successful than the high-profile billing of Wayne Shorter and Imani Winds who had played the day previous. Blake's arrangements and incorporation of strings never compromised the music's intensity, but rather added onto it as the timing and placing in his arrangements and incorporation of the strings wasn't simply a matter of finding a comfortable middle ground. In addition to Thompson's "To You Dear One," the group played "Lucky Charms" with the full ensemble, the strings given appropriate complementing voicing on this slower tempo Thompson tune.
It must be mentioned that the Danes have a well-documented tradition of appreciating a good tenor when they hear one, whether it's from an American expatriate like Dexter Gordon from decades past, or local legends like the late Bent Jaedig. This said, it hasn't taken too much convincing for them to have accepted Blake as one of their own; Copenhagen has in essence become a home away from home for him. His highly personable approach to the instrument, at times breath-heavy and always warm with a bop- rooted swing and swagger, is something you just can't help but to connect to. He is also a master of tongueing multi-tones and is an expert of his horn's altissimo range.
For the band's second set, they stripped the extra parts down to their quartet foundation, which to quote the leader, features "music from Blake Tartare's most recent world tour... of Rochester and Vancouver. It's a small world!'' Things loosened mightily, culminating in a group and audience chant of "I'm A Fool for You" that seemed to last well over ten minutes and caught Osgood almost losing his untied shorts on stage while swaying and singing!
Back at Trinitatis Kirkeplads, a new revelation of other more welcomed sorts in shortsSimon Toldam exuded resonating chords and dark clusters for his solo concert. Boisterous staccato configurations one moment, impressionistic and more gentle lines the next, Toldam proved to be a patient player allowing the music to naturally come to him with at times lengthy but intentional and ever-musical pauses. A member of Dutch drumming legend Han Bennink's newly formed trio, he surely won't be an unknown on the international jazz landscape for much longer.
Jacob Anderskov's solo concert, as was the case with Toldam's, endured threatening sprinkles, but the potential rainstorm fortunately gave way to hazy sunshine. These two extremes of Mother Nature conveniently, perhaps even intentionally, entered Anderskov's improvisations. Able to maintain a line, thought and thread for prolonged periods, the pianist subtly though strategically developed his compositional-like improvisation. The pianist often left firefly-like trails that served as aids, notes lingering long enough to serve as a lifeline for even the least adventurous listeners in attendance. Wayne Shorter once said, "Composition is improvisation in slow motion; improvisation is composition in fast motion." An apt description that sums up Anderskov's musicianship, nearly to tee.