Bugge Wesseltoft, Be Am, Jazzland ****

There's something very special about this album from the Norwegian keyboardist Bugge Wesseltoft. Full of poignant, intimate, very strong, melodies it's very much a personal statement that cuts across style and genre. Highlights are many and include …

Published: 28 Feb 2022. Updated: 4 months.

There's something very special about this album from the Norwegian keyboardist Bugge Wesseltoft. Full of poignant, intimate, very strong, melodies it's very much a personal statement that cuts across style and genre. Highlights are many and include the duo on 'Roads' with fellow countryman tenor saxophonist Håkon Kornstad. Switching between piano and Rhodes allows different points of entry on Be Am as does the work with Kornstad. Wesseltoft brings an almost hymn-like approach to melody with him that has incredible euphony on a track like 'Messenger'. And while the jazz language used is quite restrained, even absent at times, that isn't an issue. The album can easily enough operate on a broad instrumental level. Tracks are kept brief and you get a succinctness in every line and a tremendous focus. But above all it's the quality of the melodies that make this serious album stand out and make it a work that has more than its fair share of life-affirming passages, delights, and fascinations.

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Melissa Aldana, 12 Stars, Blue Note ****

New York-based Chile-born saxophonist Melissa Aldana is here on the absorbing Lage Lund-produced tarot card-inspired 12 Stars (the title referencing the Empress' crown in tarot) with a band on the recording who comprise guitarist Lund, keyboardist …

Published: 28 Feb 2022. Updated: 4 months.

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New York-based Chile-born saxophonist Melissa Aldana is here on the absorbing Lage Lund-produced tarot card-inspired 12 Stars (the title referencing the Empress' crown in tarot) with a band on the recording who comprise guitarist Lund, keyboardist Sullivan Fortner, bassist Pablo Menares and drummer Kush Abadey. With a 1990s feel in places and Aldana chimes nicely with the sound of Johsua Redman from that period 12 Stars features Aldana originals, some co-written with Lage. A very mature sound with some serious playing and interesting detours within the band sound Aldana has that rare gift of being able to communicate as intimately as a vocalist can and on a ballad such as 'Emilia' makes her sound count so very convincingly. Out on Friday

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