Kathrine Windfeld Big Band, Latency (Stunt Records)
Kathrine Winfeldâ€™s second album further establishes the 30-year-old Dane in the vanguard of new arranger-composers and bandleaders. Her young, experienced, adventurous musicians from Denmark, Sweden and Norway may be considered an all-star Scandinavian aggregation, but not in the sense that Ms. Winfeldâ€™s music dwells on Scandinavian themes. Rather, her work is in a league with bands like those of Maria Schneider, Darcy James Argue, Christian McBride and John Beasleyâ€™s Monkestraâ€”outfits unafraid to be eclectic and eccentric but insistent on values growing out of the mainstream tradition. Ms. Winfeldâ€™s crew maintains swing even when the saxophones in the piece called â€œDouble Fleischâ€ verge on free jazz a la Chicagoâ€™s AACM of the 1960s. Then she unleashes the intrepid trombone soloist GÃ¶ran Abelli, who is Â unrestrained, as he was in the 2016 Windfeld album Aircraft.
Ms. Winfeld expresses a softer side of her conception in â€œLeaving Portland.â€ The piece opens with her subdued piano. The brass builds intensity before making way for a brief, lyrical, flugelhorn solo by the young Norwegian Magnus Oseth. The composer told me when we spoke in Sweden a couple of years ago that she has never been to Portland, Oregon, or Portland, Maine. In a recent email interview about the piece, she explained,
â€œI just liked the sound of the words!Â The drama and melancholy of “port,” “land” and “leaving.”
Her orchestration beautifully captures both elements, which also underlie â€œRoadmovie,â€ with a Windfeld piano introduction supported by the Swedish bassist Johannes Vaht, who solos later in the piece, as does the Danish soprano saxophonist Jakob Lundbak, with his splendid reedy tone. The trombones introduce â€œWasp,â€ but the wasp-in-chief is the Swedish tenor saxophonist Ida Karlsson, whose buzzing, slap-tongue notes and agitated delivery highlight the piece before it subsides beneath a passage orchestrated for reeds, brass and rhythm section.
â€œDecember Elegyâ€ brings back Oseth on flugelhorn and Ms. Windfeld at the piano. More of the leaderâ€™s smooth orchestral textures encompass imaginative harmonies across the sections.
Occasionally, there are albums that give you more with each hearing. This is one of them.
From last summerâ€™s Copenhagen Jazz Festival, here is the Windfeld Big Band with a live version of â€œWasp.â€ At the top, go to your piano and strike A above middle C to find if they are in tune…or if your piano is in tune. The band members are listed at the end of the video.