Enrico Pieranunzi / Thomas Fonnesbæk ‘Blue Waltz’ CD (Stunt) 4/5

The regular Copenhagen jazz scene is one of Scandinavia’s closest kept secrets, but that is no more with a lovely intimate live recording at Gustav’s bistro/restaurant in the heart of the city on two dates from July 2017. Of course, the Copenhagen Jazz Festival is internationally renowned and, over the decades, this has encouraged musicians to perform in smaller settings. A first meeting between the two musicians dates back to 2015 when they performed together as part of a trio that also included Stefan Pasborg. Denmark can boast a proud historical record of jazz bassists with the acronym of NHOP a well worn one that designates a musician who performed with the very greatest, including Oscar Peterson. We are referring here to Niels Henning, Ørsted Pederson and Thomas Fonnesbæk belongs to that longer tradition, A repertoire of standards from the American Songbook and as few choice originals works extremely well on this occasion, allowing the duo to weave their magic, as on Cole Porter’s iconic, ‘Everything I Love’, with Pieranunzi stating the theme on piano before Fonnesbæk enters on acoustic double bass. Indeed, the number varies between a medium and quicker pace. It was the Jerome Kern composed, ‘All The Things You Are’, doubtless with a refined listening clientel in mind, and the duo maintain that erudite state of grace, gradually building up to the main theme and almost avoiding stating it. A real favourite is, ‘First Impressions’, which is simultaneously a pretext for Pieranunzi to improvise and state the theme, the motif itself bearing a close similarity to John Coltrane’s opus, ‘Impressions’, and the improvisational work certainly owes a debt of gratitude to McCoy Tyner. Another original of note is the title track which has a beautiful Romantic era classical feel in character, featuring an extended bass solo by Fonnesbæk, with Pieranunzi content to comp in the background. Pieranunzi excels on a reposing self-penned ballad, ‘Molto Ancora (per Luca Flores)’, with piano taking the centre stage and bass in a largely supportive mode. In general, excellent quality sound make this a genuine treat and the attractive gatefold sleeve and colour photos bring the whole proceedings to life.

Tim Stenhouse