Storyville Records

Black Swan

Price $15.99

Catalogue Number
1014314
Format
CD
Artist
Kathrine Windfeld / Thomas Agergaard
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Description

In recent years, some of the most exciting Danish jazz has been emanating from pianist, arranger and composer Kathrine Windfeld’s Big Band. She’s been widely praised by critics, both in Denmark and abroad. However, the 32-year-old Windfeld is also generous when it comes to letting others explore the possibilities of her 5-year-old big band – in this case an extremely experienced figure on the Danish jazz scene, saxophonist and composer Thomas Agergaard, who is 23 years Windfeld’s senior.
Clearly, Agergaard’s music for Kathrine Windfeld’s Big Band has been a creative challenge for all involved. The orchestra is used to Windfeld’s meticulously worked out and prepared compositions that. With Agergaard, however, the music is often delivered spontaneously, and some of the compositions were crafted right in the studio, a whole new way for the band to work.
 
“Thomas writes quite differently than I do,” says Kathrine Winfeld, “with many different references to contemporary classical music, among other things, and he often goes in for the free-tonal approach, sometimes the symphonic. He works more spontaneously and thrives on the energy of the moment. This is beneficial to the music, but is also a challenge when we are so many together and have to make something work within a limited time frame.”
 
On this occasion Agergaard utilizes smaller units of the big band while also working brilliantly with the entire ensemble. Part of the repertoire consists of renewed preexisting compositions, such as Different Corner and the vehement Hast, while other compositions such as the ballad, Airborne Lotus, was written just before the recording was made.
 
Thomas Agergaard displays his high caliber as all-around soloist on alto sax and flute. At the same time, he makes room for other soloists and quirky ideas, such as having the band’s guitarist spontaneously play the mandolin during a number for the first time. All of these are elements that have strengthened Kathrine Windfeld’s Big Band. As she says herself: “It’s been exciting for the band, and not least of all for myself, to have a different kind of repertoire.”

Reviews

The album is an excellent and refreshing bigband-album that demonstrates Thomas Agergaards musical gift and maturity as an artist.

- Christian Munch-Hansen, Politiken

Do opposites really attract? Danish big band leader Kathrine Windfeld's compositions are meticulously worked out in advance, whereas saxophonist Thomas Agergaard, her collaborator on this gig, takes a different, more spontaneous approach. 

Some of the numbers on this album are reworkings of old compositions but others were put together in the studio just before the recording was made. The gentle, meditative ballad "Airborne Lotus"—the most interesting song in the collection—is an example of the latter approach. Agergaard's tenor states the theme over Windfeld's subdued piano accompaniment. "Dream Society," which follows, features Agergaard on alto flute and is darker and more intricate. It's part of a suite that includes three more songs, the most interesting of which is perhaps the brooding "For Nick." 

It's all a bit hit and miss. There are some interesting bits and pieces but the suite and the CD in general, lacks overall musical coherence. 

When opposites attract, perhaps it's only for a limited amount of time.

All About Jazz, Chris Mosey

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