Across the whole album, there’s the assured feel of a team that knows exactly what they’re supposed to do and when…
Stunt Records STUCD22132 (CD) / STULP22131 (LP)
Stephen Riley (tenor saxophone), Michael Blicher (tenor and alto saxophone), Magnus Hjorth (piano), Mads Kjølby (guitar), Anders Fjeldsted (bass), Snorre Kirk (drums).
It is 11 years since composer and drummer Snorre Kirk released his successful debut album which yielded triumphant success in the form of a JazzSpecial Award in Denmark for “Album of the Year”, and two nominations for the Danish Grammy Awards.
In this new release, Top Dog (released in the UK on 7 July), the Norwegian-born, Denmark-based Kirk maintains his winning formula, paying respectful tribute to his idols Ellington and Basie in 10 new compositions.
Kirk is a loyal bandleader, calling up his regular collaborators Stephen Riley and Michael Blicher on saxophones, Magnus Hjorth on piano and Anders Fjeldsted on bass. New on this album is guitarist Mads Kjølby, who adds a classic Freddie Green style to give that big band swing.
Talking of swing, the title track gives sassy licks to a slick rhythm section, all caressed by a smooth sax sound. Swing Point is a fun up tempo ride with dextrous finger work from this tight band.
More plaintive tracks such as On Late Nights offer an evocative, dusky atmosphere, a painterly portrait of lovers strolling hand in hand by the river on a hot city night. Later in the album, Meditations in Blue transports our couple to a sunset soirée on a latin seafront.
Always dapper in a suit, Snorre Kirk is your man if you are looking for someone to pay homage to the greats without simply doing a copy-paste job. Restrained and discreet, his compositions are neat and well executed, never brash.
Across the whole album, there’s the assured feel of a team that knows exactly what they’re supposed to do and when, and Kirk’s sensitive percussion gives a confident yet unostentatious backdrop to his bandmates’ expressive capacity.