Ulf Wakenius

New York Meeting

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Even though he has had a spot with the Oscar Peterson Quartet since 1997 and has been on four Ray Brown CDs, including Some of My Best Friends Are...Guitarists, Ulf Wakenius has not yet gained the name recognition accorded to other European guitarists such as Philip Catherine. It's hard to figure out why, given his prodigious talent, which he displays in the company of fine New York jazz musicians, plus Danish pianist Niels Lans Doky. Wakenius favors the cleaner-cut to guitar. Individual notes can be heard and chords are not overly complex. He shows his harmonic creativity on such cuts as "The Way You Look Tonight." This cut has Wakenius making exceptional use of space, understanding that the guitar has to stop and breathe every now and then rather than demonstrating how fast and furious the axe can be played. Wakenius shows a kinder and gentler side on a sort of off-center offering of "Crazy He Calls Me" where he gets a more resonant electric sound on his acoustic guitar. The rhythm section of Ira Coleman and Billy Hart keeps the momentum going on a tough rendition of "Nature of Business," with Hart using cymbals, snares, and bass drums to control the motion of the music. The piece de resistance is a nine-minute excursion by solo guitar of "Georgia on My Mind" where the melody is more often than not hinted at rather than explicitly stated. It's quite amazing as the guitar player reveals aspects of Hoagy Carmichael's rather uncomplicated piece of music that one was never aware of. Wakenius has been active since 1975, so he's no new kid on the block. This album should get this fine Swedish guitarist the recognition he has earned.

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