The case of Kasper Villaume demonstrates that the internationalization of the jazz language has reached a point where young cats from small villages in northern Jutland can now speak modern bop like they speak Danish.
Villaume is not a pianist with any radical new ideas, but he possesses important virtues like clarity, passion and chops. He leads a very strong band here, with tenor saxophonist Chris Potter, bassist Chris Minh Doky and drummer Ali Jackson. The recorded sound by engineer James Farber is exceptional, and the program is intelligently balanced. “Green Chimneys” is a quick dash through a Monk obstacle course. “Captain Kirkland” is a Villaume blues for blowing with a smoking Potter tenor solo and a wild bumpy ride by drummer Jackson. “Cloudy and Blue” is nominally a ballad but Villaume and Potter push against it hard. “Gone” is fun because it is clearly the arrangement from the classic Miles Davis/Gil Evans orchestral version of Porgy and Bess cleverly translated for quartet. “Sniper,” by bassist Doky, is perfectly nasty. Villaume loves the Shirley Horn rendition of Bobby Troup’s “The Meaning of the Blues.” He and Doky take ornate, far-ranging solos that never lose the rapt soliloquy that Horn brought to the song.
This is feel-good jazz for thinking people