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Kasper Villaume Quartet: #2

Kasper Villaume’s last album, 117 Ditmas Avenue, is an impressive trio date that announced an accomplished, aggressively two-handed young Danish pianist. This quartet session, #2, actually predates that announcement. It was recorded in December 2002, 18 months prior to 117 Ditmas Avenue, and it reconfirms that this pianist is for real.

Villaume is atypical of most gifted young improvising musicians now coming out of Scandinavia. He is less interested in accessing his Nordic cultural roots to bring fresh sounds and concepts into jazz, and more interested in beating the best modern-mainstream players in New York at their own game.

Villaume is already competitive. Put on #2 without looking at the cover, and you might guess that you are listening to David Hazeltine with Eric Alexander, or maybe David Berkman with Joel Frahm. Villaume’s band, with tenor saxophonist Lars Moller, bassist Jesper Bodilsen and drummer Morten Lund, is that smart and that cocky.

And Villaume digs deep, albeit not yet in new ground. He writes strong tunes (like “The Speedmaster,” paradoxically unhurried), and offers interesting takes on standards (like “My Man’s Gone Now” as a backbeat funk reverie).

Originally Published