Søren Kristiansen and Thomas Fonnesbæk, The Touch, Storyville ****

What a stunning tribute to Oscar Peterson and NHØP this is from Danish pianist Søren Kristiansen and fellow countryman bassist Thomas Fonnesbæk. Stripped back to lush, ringing melody the pair deftly navigate a host of material that spools on from …

Published: 4 Feb 2022. Updated: 8 months.

What a stunning tribute to Oscar Peterson and NHØP this is from Danish pianist Søren Kristiansen and fellow countryman bassist Thomas Fonnesbæk. Stripped back to lush, ringing melody the pair deftly navigate a host of material that spools on from 'Soft Winds' and 'Nigerian Marketplace' to 'On Danish Shore' a magical 'Wheatland' and lastly 'Hymn To Freedom'. Overall this all has such an intact, pristine, quality to it and contains a great feel and rapport between the two players as well as an ear for the mood and the sensibility of Oscar Peterson and NHØP. A delight from start to finish. The Touch is aptly named because these two certainly have it in infinite supply.

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Shift towards a better profile for straightahead jazz is a welcome development

There's a lot of solid, very attractive, mainstream middle-of-the-road ''straightahead'' style jazz around at the moment. Labels like Cellar Live, Posi-Tone, Savant and Criss Cross (the latter two labels hard boiled veterans of the style for many …

Published: 4 Feb 2022. Updated: 8 months.

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There's a lot of solid, very attractive, mainstream middle-of-the-road ''straightahead'' style jazz around at the moment. Labels like Cellar Live, Posi-Tone, Savant and Criss Cross (the latter two labels hard boiled veterans of the style for many years) regularly feeding a hearty retro jazz appetite for bop and beyond jazz that if you like has a beginnning, a middle and an end, clear delineation for instrumentalists and a liking for strong melody and tonality.

With even Blue Note often signing young revivalists of hard bop (Immanuel Wilkins, Joel Ross) and other leading labels hitting the green-for-go button on retro jazz Michael Weiss' upcoming album Persistence is another in the trend timely recording a bunch of originals and standards where else but at Van Gelder's, the studio still most identified with classic Golden Age jazz.

Some jazz fans won't like this development given that no-one is trying to reinvent the wheel or move into deep experimental space. But others will disagree and yell ''about time''. It struck me hearing altoist Greg Abate for instance live last year at a small pick-up date in London's Soho how straighatahead players still have a lot to contribute but rarely get much exposure any more.

Or take hearing another formidable saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi a few years ago again in Soho for another masterclass in bop serendipity and prowess but yet another player who grabs few headlines these days for some unfathomable reason given the huge skill he habitually displays.

But you never know as the wheel of the stylistic cycle turns in their favour once again and the efforts of all the fine labels above to draw it to our attention all over again their time may come once again. It's like rediscovering why we all loved jazz in the first place but somehow have taken far too much for granted distracted by more recent fads and slick marketing. Persistence is out on 18 February. Michael Weiss, above