Dancing Cheek to Cheek
There's something rockin' in Denmark, and has been for 25 years. The NJO's latest, recorded in 2003-04, does not contain a dull moment, thanks to Dorge's imaginative charts: straightahead, free jazz, world music, even moments of Zen. That last category-like a clearing in the jungle-comes from guest vocalist, Josefine Cronholm, who sings "Body and Soul" at its slowest possible tempo while everyone reverently tiptoes behind her. Coming out of the descending turnaround, she hums two bars of the last eight, the accompaniment fades, and she hums the next two bars solo, leaving the tune unfinished. Beautiful touch.
An American guest, trombonist/singer Ray Anderson, joins Cronholm on the title tune, giving the pair a chance to swing joyously. Elsewhere, the infectious rhythm section propels the front line to some exotic sounds: "Munzun Mun" features Anderson on what Dorge calls "elephant trombone," plunging that would make Ellington drool; "Something New From Africa" is Dixieland-ish, highlighted by Kasper Tranberg's cornet; "Dukish Mingus" boasts a "walking" trombone-part of an exciting 'bone duet by Kenneth Agerholm and Anderson; the persistent triplets of "Zulu Dance" keep it floating; "Xing Xang" is a delicate, meditative tone poem; "Sun Ra Saluting Mars," hardly delicate, re-creates the Arkestra with a Latin back beat.