Jens Wendelboe

'Lone Attic

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This was Jens Wendelboe's first outing as a leader, and it features a strong coterie of Norwegian musicians performing some of the gifted trombonist's compositions and arrangements. The leader generously shares solo space with his colleagues, but it is the fine writing and the ensemble skills of the band that impress the most. Wendelboe's pieces are squarely within a modern big band framework, with melodies punctuated by accented brass and a hard-hitting rhythm section, sometimes with a rock underpinning. The band is extremely disciplined, the tracks fairly short, and the improvisations solid if sometimes non-descript. Wendelboe squeezes out solos on electric trombone on "Günther Balade" and "Secret Name," the former on which he sings through the horn with a slightly fuzzy, though curiously attractive tone, and the latter on which he explores sonorities in the lower registers to good effect. Fred Nøddelund also solos on electric trumpet on "Secret Name" with more prosaic results. "Suite to Bjørn" was designated "Musicpiece of the Year" by Nopa, and it is the longest track, with strong contributions by alto saxophonist Arild Stav, drummer Svein Christiansen, and Frode Alnaes who drape some original, highly creative arranging by Wendelboe, which foreshadows his growth on later albums. In all, an auspicious debut that should have opened the eyes of a wider audience to the enormous talents of this Scandinavian wunderkind who proved to be one his country's key musical assets.

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