Recommended: Emil De Waal + Gustaf Ljunggren and Søren Kjærgaard Feat. Elith “Nulle” Nykjær


Emil De Waal + Gustaf Ljunggren and Søren Kjaergaard Feat Elith Nulle NykjaerThere is a warmth and intimacy to this music that is positively intoxicating.  Recorded in one spontaneous session and almost entirely consisting of single takes, the quartet of drummer Emil de Waal, pianist Søren Kjærgaard, clarinetist Elith “Nulle” Nykjær and saxophonist Gustaf Ljunggren (who also performs on banjo) instill a casual touch to a masterful dialog.  This appealing dichotomy of serious vocabulary used in a laid-back conversation is why this album is going to connect with both heart and head.

The album leads out with the sweet, simple heartfelt melody of “Kurt.”  A wearied tone.  A charming, relaxed ease.  It’s a disposition the quartet adopts throughout.  But they also get the pulse rate up a bit, too.  The boisterous “Har du?” is cheerful and possesses a playful bounce and the rollicking “Æv” starts at a gallop and drummer de Waal makes sure it doesn’t relent.

The charming folk tunes “Delval,’ “Pirates” and “Dabitt” are all about sweet melodies and unassuming ornamentation.  Melancholy tones from Nykjær’s clarinet snap into place with the chipper personality of Ljunggren’s banjo.  The presence of that banjo really adds a remarkable characteristic to this session’s magnetic personality.

The quartet performs a couple of classic standards.  Their rendition of Charles Mingus’s “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” is all-blues.  A cool, casual stroll that is as unhurried as a gently rolling stream.  Of particular interest is the curious way in which pianist Kjærgaard seamlessly incorporates a Wurlitzer into the action.  On their medley of the Strayhorn/Ellington compositions “Such Sweet Thunder/Purple Gazelle/Very Special,” the quartet toys with tempo and let’s that be the medium with which melodies are shaped.

The album ends with a rendition of Chopin’s “Nocturne Opus 9, no. 2.”  The quartet stays to form and trades in the original’s stately elegance for a lullaby expression that is the sonic equivalent of singing “good night and sweet dreams.”

It’s been a long while since I’ve encountered an album this personable and charming.  If I had discovered this album back when it was originally released in 2013, there’s no doubt it would have appeared on my Best of 2013 list.

Your album personnel:  Emil de Waal (drums), Gustaf Ljunggren (sax, banjo, clarinet), Søren Kjærgaard (piano, Wurlitzer & Korg MS-20 synth) and Elith “Nulle” Nykjær (clarinet).

This Self-Produced album was released in 2013.

Here’s a LINK to a dedicated Facebook page for this quartet.

Jazz from the Copenhagen scene.

Available at:  eMusic | Amazon MP3

It appears the quartet may have a new release also coming out in 2015.  Updates as I learn more.