Finn Hauge

Harmonica

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Jazz harmonica players have always been a true rarity. Toots Thielemans has dominated the tiny field since his emergence in the mid-'50s, and other than Hendrik Meurkens, there has been no real competition during the following half-century. Finn Hauge, a Scandinavian, is quite impressive on Harmonica and shows that he is nearly in Toots' league. Joined by an excellent local rhythm section that includes pianist Olga Konkova, Hauge explores six jazz standards (two by Bill Evans) that are sandwiched between his originals "Close to My Heart" and "Wishes." The music is straight-ahead yet not without its surprises, including a cooking medium-tempo version of "My Foolish Heart," which is usually taken as a ballad. Hauge has a warm sound and is fluent on the material, including the boppish "Confirmation," making it all sound easy. Recommended.

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