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Smokers Lounge

Cover / Front

Smokers Lounge

Cover / Back

Jens Haack

By Stephen Freiheit

Jelling Festival 2003

By Søren Fjordside

Smokers Lounge

Poster - 13,3MB

Reviews:

Hans-Bernd Hulsmann // www.smooth-jazz.de

Smoking cigars is sometimes isolating people. On the other hand Jens Haack's music is so irresistible that I couldn't withstand to review this fashionable album. Jens is from Denmark, that Scandinavian region, where musicians like Soren Reiff, Jakob Elvstrom, Chris Minh Doky and Bobby Rickets are coming from. So trust me, when I recommend you this fine album.

Jens recorded Smokers Lounge with his old friends, guitarist Mikkel Nordsø, and pianist Ben Besiakow. The last-named facilitated the participation of The Danish Nation Chamber Orchestra.

Vernon Duke wrote the jazz standard Autumn In New York in 1934 for the Broadway musical Thumbs Up! often covered by the jazz world. Beauty meets tranquility. A contemplative piece with great elegance.

The title song Smokers Lounge continues this mood on a modern base. A complex flowing groove with an unobtrusive orchestral background. Mikkel Nordsø excels on acoustic guitar. But remarkable is especially Jens Haack's widely spreaded instrumentation from muted trumpet to alto sax and baritone sax. We shouldn't forget Ben Besiakow's brilliant keyboard work.

Bohemian songwriter Hoagy Carmichael composed Skylark in 1942, recorded almost immediately by Glenn Miller, Dinah Shore, and Helen Forrest (with Harry James) and since that time a jazz standard. Haack wonderfully captures the spirit of this melody in his exquisite arrangement.

The Bossa Nova flavored It's All About Love showcases the team in a renowned set as one can often see and listen them during their numerous gigs in Denmark. I Can't Get Started is another piece by Vernon Duke, first shown in the theatrical production Ziegfeld Follies of 1936 where it was sung by Bob Hope. Ben Besiakow creates an own magic on keys, followed by his fellow musicians.

Malcolm Earl Waldron was a versatile jazz pianist and composer, whose most famous piece Souls Eyes is a jazz standard since a longtime. Jens Haack serves a modish rendition in the style of the early years. Alone Together by Arthur Schwartz is part of Flying Colors, a musical Broadway revue in 1932. The right piece for the smooth expansion of the group.

Final tune on this remarkable album is the Bossa Nova piece Haacks Mood. Expressive intonation supports a maximum of atmosphere.

Smokers Lounge offers jazz from the period, when jazz came as close as it has ever come to being America's popular music. Melodious, cultural and graceful.


Martin Lutz // www.jazzstjerner.dk (in danish)

Klokken er 22.46 fredag aften. Børnene er puttet efter en omgang fredagsslik og Disney Sjov og langsomt indfinder roen sig. Tid til at smække fødderne op på sofabordet, tid til en pibe tobak og tid til refleksion over dagens genvordigheder eller tid til meditation langt, langt væk fra byens larm og tempo. Tid til en tur gennem loungen.

Med saxofonisten Jens Haack som projektleder for "Smokers Lounge" og Radio Underholdningsorkestret serveres der her en cocktail af otte numre - fortrinsvis ballader fra det amerikanske standardrepertoire - der i en fremragende varm produktion præsenterer kvalitets-underholdningsmusik eller - om man vil - verdensklasse-elevatormusik. Det er helt og aldeles gennemført i sit udtryk og balancerer hårfint - men hele tiden vellykket - på kanten til afgrunden. Haack formår med sin luftige tilgang til saxofonspillet at give Hans Ulrik kamp til stregen, som saxofonisten med den mest sexede tone herhjemme, mens Besiakov på bl.a. Rhodes samt Mikkel Nordsø særligt med sin akustiske bossa nova inspirerede rytmeguitar sørger for et uimodståeligt vuggende musikalsk grundlag.

Og så er der Radio Underholdningsorkestret hvor først og fremmest de nænsomt og i øvrigt ganske fremragende arrangerede strygere giver udgivelsen det ekstra lydmæssige og dynamiske pift, der løfter albummet langt, langt, langt over det gennemsnitlige inden for genren. Man kunne have frygtet, at "Smokers Lounge" var kitschet metervare - i stedet har Haack og hans hold begået et album der emmer af autenticitet og seriøsitet. Simpelthen fremragende!