Back in 2016 Blackwater on Dom Sales' Jellymould Jazz label by bassist Henrik Jensen's Followed by 13 ushered in an exquisitely poised new sound pretty much unheard at the time and introduced us to an insightful composer who we were not to know was already well on his way.
Four years on and now on Oliver Weindling's Babel label there is a new wisdom here and the compositions chime again, positive evolutionary change in the air. Will this be the profile raiser that Jensen deserves? Let's hope. On the earlier record, the musical character and style of Kenny Wheeler was inescapably present in the delicately pastoral, communicative, slightly mournful solo lines of trumpeter/flugel player Andre Canniere. Canniere is not on the new record, however, Jamie Cullum trumpeter Rory Simmons is and continues that line of thought hardbedded within Jensen’s compositional brain a little but the influence is perhaps less pervasive even if his muse shares something in common with the great Wheeler.
The quartet, with pianist Esben Tjalve returning once again and this time a new drummer Pete Ibbetson instead of Antonio Fusco, certainly know how to communicate. Tjalve is superb for instance in his solo as he unpeels soft layers of melodicism in a spirit of revelation on 'The Belsham Palm', go there to hear him best, while Simmons earlier on the elegiac 'Gentle Giant' constructs a tender trap in the extra ounce of meaning he finds hidden in among the notes. While Jensen is unobtrusive keeping the beat if you would like to hear him on his own go to the beginning of 'Chaoyang Park' to quickly savour the delicious Hollandaise sauce.
Neither party jazz nor a harrowing trip to the monastery instead this is grown-up music that may hover in the shadows, may venture out to even touch on the blues and which the quartet surprisingly do on 'Darvin'. Above all Affinity leads to reflect on things that you never expected to even pause to consider. Self-isolate to. SG Released on 20 March.