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Thor Madsen: Metal Dog

Born in Denmark and transplanted to New York City, guitarist Thor Madsen lives up to his first name by spinning complex, angular lines with a tone, vibe and energy level that might result from John Scofield meeting Thelonious Monk. Throughout the set he also flexes his compositional muscles, aided by bandmates Douglas Yates on saxophone, Francois Moutin on bass and Ari Hoenig on drums.

In addition to chord patterns and grooves, Madsen also is enamored with musical atmosphere and texture, evidence of which can be found in numbers like the moody ballad “Little Q,” with its spicy harmonies and airy delicacy, and “No Dancing Allowed,” which cloaks Moutin’s virtuosic solo in a subtly percolating sonic environment. At fast tempos, Madsen can play aggressively, as on “Crazy Dog Out the Window,” where he peppers his solo with dissonant jabs. And while most of the numbers test one limit or another in terms of performance or structure, Madsen can also commit himself to something less intricate like “Simple Song,” which finds him heightening the effect of the repetitive laid-back groove with tasty, succinct phrases.

Concept, individual capability and group cohesion all come together on this disc, which is well worth checking out.

Originally Published