Christian Holm-Svendsen already has his own voice. I think it will be amazing to hear what he gives us in the future.

April Records

Christian Holm-Svendsen – Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Clarinet; Mariusz Praśniewski – Double Bass; Daniel Sommer – Drums

Chamber jazz, or cool jazz was very popular in the sixties. This was partly a reaction to the frenetic pace of bebop. Chamber jazz was more relaxed and laid-back.

Lately, I’ve noticed a lot of chamber jazz releases. There’s a new one from April Records that you should listen to. It’s saxophonist Christian Holm-Svendsen’s debut, TOTEM. It’s a trio with one of my favorite drummers, Daniel Sommer, and a great Polish bassist, Mariusz Praśniewski, who is now living in Copenhagen. Holm-Svendsen currently lives in New York, where he is studying for his master’s degree in music at the Manhattan School of Music.

Saxophone trios are nothing new. Sonny Rollins, Lee Konitz, and Joe Henderson have recorded some masterpieces. Sommer and Praśniewski have taken Svendsen’s compositions, and along with their technical mastery, mixed in a serene sense of space.

Without a harmonic instrument like the piano or guitar, a saxophonist has greater freedom to play with harmonic and melodic ideas without being fenced in by chordal accompaniment. This also puts the pressure on to carry the melody, harmony, and improvization, which Holm-Svendsen handles beautifully.

‘Dvale ’is a Norwegian word meaning hibernation, or deep rest. Not surprisingly, ‘Dvale ’is peaceful, and the dynamics are delicate. Sommer’s use of mallets and Holm-Svendsen sticking to the lower range of his tenor is calming. Looking out my window at all the activity around our two bird feeders, with ‘Dvale ’as the soundtrack, is a lovely way to spend a Sunday morning.

‘Duo ’is just that with Holm-Svendsen on clarinet and Praśniewski on bass. Both instruments exude warmth and woodiness.

‘Vind og vejr ’or wind and weather, wouldn’t have sounded out of place in the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Holm-Svendsen’s soprano reminded me of what Paul Desmond did on alto. There is another fine bass solo. Sommer has an intensely delicate touch on the drums. He is never noisy. He said he is more interested in interplay, and creating music as a band together. He was recently involved in another trio album, also on April Records, called AS TIME PASSES with bassist Arild Andersen and guitarist Rob Luft.

‘5 Foot 4’ has some of the coolest cymbal action. The rest of the drum kit is getting a workout so it is easy to imagine two drummers. Holm-Svendsen’s composition is a straightforward melody with balanced phrases. Its melody is simple. The rhythmic patterns are evenly paced, so the tune is easily hummable in the shower.

i have tried making comparisons to who Christian Holm-Svendsen sounds like. I hear glimpses of Lee Konitz, Warne Marsh, even the quieter moments from Dexter Gordon, but, none of that really matters. He already has his own voice. I think it will be amazing to hear what he gives us in the future.