Friday, January 8, 2016

Morten Haxholm Quartet - Viridian (2015)

Morten Haxholm: bass
Lage Lund: guitar
William Larsson: piano
Morten Lund: drums

Stella by Starlight
Birthday Waltz
Along Came Betty

Morton Haxholm is a Danish double bass player. One of these albums was recorded in Copenhagen and the other in Brooklyn; both were released on 29 May 2015.

For Haxholm it’s his third Quartet album, though each has had a different personnel. On Viridian he has guitarist Lage Lund, drummer Morten Lund and pianist William Larsson. It’s a beautifully balanced band so although Lage Lund is the obvious star name – Haxholm first heard him on a trip to New York back in 2012 and has having him in his band ever since – the other three are equally impressive.

Most of the material is the leader’s with two standards – Stella By Starlight and Along Came Betty – included because Haxholm loves Lage’s playing on well-known tunes, and a particularly tricky Larsson piece called Cntdwn (a highly-adapted arrangement of Coltrane’s Countdown).

The moods vary but the playing is uniformly impeccable. Haxholm said he wanted to give this music a more European feel, and that’s inevitable I suppose with all the players being Scandinavian, but also retain a New York inspiration which is important to him and was more obvious on his first two quartet discs. I think he’s achieved that, though in a blind listening test I might have identified it as an American unit.

Try Birthday Waltz for a satisfying and representative morsel of the whole. Read more.