Monday, April 10, 2017

Jørgen Emborg Quartet (feat. Mathias Heise) - What’s Left? (STUNT RECORDS 2017)

Emborg’s acoustic quartet with harmonica phenomenon Mathias Heise, drummer Karsten Bagge and bassist Peter Hansen has recorded nine new Emborg compositions, which are on a par with any of his best pieces.

Back in 1991 critic Boris Rabinowitch wrote of composer and pianist Jørgen Emborg, “No one in Denmark writes tunes like Emborg’s. They have personality, they are original, and they are often based on unorthodox structures that are a little too complex for the normal listener to hum along with. But never the less, they are so catchy that their echo vibrates in your mind for a long time.” His description still fits perfectly.

Since the late 1970’s Jørgen Emborg’s compositional style and open-minded playing has created a very personal sound. He has fronted his own bands, and in the mid-1980’s he was the main composer for Frontline – the favorite rock band among jazz aficionados and the favorite jazz band among rock audiences. He co-led an extremely popular band with vocalist Mona Larsen, was a member of the Danish Radio Big Band and Swedish Tolvan Big Band, part of tenor saxophonist Bob Rockwell’s bands as well as being a very busy studio and live sideman.

Emborg’s distinguished talents as a musician and composer have earned him many honors, most recently the Danish Art Foundatioin’s lifetime honorary award – a rare and illustrious recognition for someone from the rhythmic music scene. The honor was motivated in Emborg’s musicianship
and compositions “…built on a foundation of musical brilliance, a knowledge of harmony reserved for a minority, and a musical drive that has produced an Emborg catalogue of new Danish evergreens.”

Emborg’s music has always balanced on the thin line between an extremely sophisticated expression and a lyrical spontaneity that also grabs listeners from outside the world of jazz. Emborg’s new acoustic quartet with harmonica phenomenon Mathias Heise, drummer Karsten Bagge and bassist Peter Hansen, performs nine new Emborg pieces that are on a par with the best of his compositions. One might think that he could not possibly pull more beautiful themes out of his sleeve, but once again Emborg demonstrates that he is still one of the country’s finest composers.

This recording contains wonderful ballads, rock-steady uptempo tracks, some inspiration from Brazil, and pieces that illustrate that Emborg never stops developing as a composer. But all tracks are unmistakably Emborg! The CD finishes off with a new recording of one of Emborg’s most beautiful and well-known tunes, Song For Toots, a tribute to Toots Thielemans, who passed away in 2016. Here, the young harmonica virtuoso Heise and one of Thielemans’ greatest admirers, pianist Jørgen Emborg, pay homage to the deceased master.

Snowballs and Sleigh Bells
Sudden Exit
That’s Why
Wait for the Sign
What’s Left
The Never-Ending Waltz
Playful and Joyful
Three Choices
Rule No. 1
Song for Toots

Jørgen Emborg (piano, keyboards)
Peter Hansen (bass)
Karsten Bagge (drums)
Mathias Heise (harmonica)