Thomas Clausen / Thomas Clausen Trio

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Thomas Clausen is a veteran Scandinavian jazz pianist who shows the lyrical influence of the late Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett. Accompanied by bassist Thomas Fonnesbaek and drummer Karsten Bagge (who sticks mainly to brushes), Clausen chooses a mix of familiar and less frequently played works, along with two strong originals. His relaxed, spacious setting of "I'll Remember April" proves that not every bopper has to play it at a runaway tempo to be successful. "'Round Midnight" sounds even more ominous as he begins each phrase alone and is then answered by Fonnesbaek's droning arco bass and Bagge's drums, while his aggressive take of "Milestones" showcases Bagge extensively. The pianist's inspired choice of the dreamy ballad "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes" (from the animated film Cinderella) makes one wonder why it isn't as popular with jazz artists as "Someday My Prince Will Come." The '60s rock anthem "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," written by Carole King, is recast as a subdued ballad with a bittersweet flavor. The pianist's "Pelicans...And Other Birds" is a wild post-bop vehicle that's more of a free-for-all than its subtle title would indicate, while his lush ballad "Home" is a thoughtful blend of warm memories with a touch of melancholy.

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