Søren Lee / Søren Lee Quartet

Søren Lee Quartet

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Danish guitar player Søren Lee has put together a musical agenda which includes tunes composed by bop artists Sonny Rollins, Oscar Pettiford, and Jackie McLean, some standards, and two of his originals, one of them penned in collaboration with bassist Ray Brown. Lee derives his approach to the guitar from Wes Montgomery, building his melodies by moving from single notes into chords, as apparent on "Secret Love." That Lee has paid attention to Jim Hall's performances is shown on Lee's own blues-based "Lee Meets Ray." While a very competent guitarist, Lee certainly is not an adventurous one, at least not on this session. All of the tunes are played pretty much the same, without an abundance of fervor. There's also little effort at serious improvising, so Lee's playing partners work to make the proceedings interesting. Premier bass player Ray Brown does his magic on "Blues for Philly Joe," with a major contribution from Alvin Queen's drums. Brown also gets together with Lee on "St. Thomas," recalling the classic 1972 Jim Hall-Ron Carter version. Niels Lan Doky and Thomas Clausen's pianos are given important solo space. But, these valiant efforts notwithstanding, there's a feeling of lethargy which the players never are quite able to shake off. Having said this, the rendition of "My Funny Valentine," a song which fits Lee's tidy, low-key strumming quite nicely, is done well. But there are too many "just nice," laid-back tracks on this album and not enough exciting arrangements which the players can sink their musical teeth into. This is also an album where the aesthetics of the art director override common sense; the liner printing is dark blue on a black background, which makes the notes impossible to read.

blue highlight denotes track pick