Notes From the Heart
ACT Music + Vision
Swedish guitarist Ulf Wak-enius has had long and fruitful associations with the late Ray Brown and the great Oscar Peterson. In both of those straightahead settings, his swing-oriented prowess perfectly complemented the bandleaders, and in the case of Peterson he followed admirably in the footsteps of such jazz-guitar giants as Herb Ellis and Joe Pass. On this mellow offering devoted to compositions by Keith Jarrett and performed exclusively on nylon-string acoustic guitar, Wakenius puts his bop chops on the shelf in favor of concentrating on the inherent beauty in Jarrett’s rare and affecting melodies on familiar pieces like the poignant “Memories of Tomorrow,” which is rendered with a light, alluring samba touch, the tender “Innocence” and the haunting “My Song.”
Wakenius demonstrates remarkable chemistry with bassist Lars Danielsson and drummer Morten Lund, whether it’s grooving on the vibrant “The Windup” or the carefree, calypso flavored “U-Dance,” or hitting a sublime accord on the gorgeous “So Tender.” Guitar and bass execute some tight unisons on the melancholy “Everything That Lives Laments,” and bassist Danielsson also contributes some sparse piano tinkling on the delicate “Mon Coeur Est Rouge,” though he sounds closer in spirit to New Age pioneer George Winston than Jarrett himself. And given his abundance of chops, the guitarist exercises Zenlike restraint on the closing ballad, “Prayer.”
A consistently brilliant player over the past 25 years, Wakenius stands to gain considerably more attention on the strength of this beautifully conceived and eminently accessible album.