Jacob Young ‘Forever Young’ (ECM) 4/5

Jacob-YoungNorwegian guitarist Jacob Young, now in his mid-thirties, will be a new name to some, but has a dual US-Norwegian heritage in that his father is American and this is a wonderfully lyrical debut recording that promises a bright future for the young musician. Earning a scholarship to the New York School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in Manhattan, Young performed there under the tutorship of guitar great Jim Hall and it is the introspective nature of the latter’s approach that seems to have influenced Young’s more reflective approach alongside, perhaps, the early recordings of Pat Metheny. Friend and fellow Norwegian saxophone player Trygve Seim alternates between tenor and soprano to excellent effect and the tight rhythm section is made up of the Marcin Wasilewski trio, all three of whom are equally members of Manu Katche’s band which ensures a rock solid accompaniment throughout. The emphasis is on gently uplifting numbers, all of which are group originals, and this is typified by ‘Bounce’ which recalls the old-school tenors of Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster with beautifully melodic piano and a deeply soulful piece overall. Indeed, there is a impressive lyrical sensibility to the duet between guitarist and saxophonist softly sounding opener ‘I lost my heart to you’, and with delicate piano accompaniment from Wasilewski. Arguably the strongest number of all is the gorgeous ‘Sofia’s Dance’ with some gorgeous work from piano and soprano saxophone in unison and a main theme that is straight out of the Pat Metheny bag. Balladry is a particular strong point of Jacob Young’s work and acoustic ECM period Metheny is hinted at on ‘We were dancing’. The biggest compliment one can pay to this well grounded ensemble is that the album as whole sounds like it has been recorded by seasoned musicians who have performed together over two or three decades and that augurs well for future recordings.

Tim Stenhouse