- Little Girl Blue
- Cry Me a River
- When I Fall In Love
- Old Folks
- I Wish I Knew
- A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square
- Blues At Night
- My One And Only Love
- Ballad Of The Sad Young Men
Ulf Wakenius - nylon string guitar
Lars Jansson - piano, synth
Lars Danielsson - bass, synth
Raymond Karlsson - drums, percussion
Produced by Ulf Wakenius
Recorded Göteborg, Sweden, May, October, 1995 and March 1996.
This CD is very different from Dig In (see the JGO review here). Rather than all-out jazz blowing, the listener will find very open and sonorous textures characterized by nylon string guitar and thick synth pads. Ulf's playing is pensive and poetic here; he takes his time and sensitively articulates the notes. The backing players provide a restrained cushion of music that makes this CD feel at times like a film soundtrack.
Hymn is like this more than any other tune on the disc. Just Ulf and synth, with occaisional upright bass and cymbals. Very nicely played.
Little Girl Blue continues this vein. Bass and drums play light ballad time in the back, with synth closely following Ulf's melodic playing. At times he sounds like Mike Stern when playing nylon string. Jansson's piano solo is minimalistic yet haunting.
Cry Me a River features Ulf playing with his own rhythm track overdubbed. He lets a little bluesiness escape though this tune. Some of the bends he plays almost suggest gypsy style playing, yet maintaining the fat tone of the nylon guitar.
When I Fall In Love is a lovely ballad and is played beautifully by Ulf. The synth backing on this tune is very well done but I would have preferred to hear acoustic piano here. C'est la vie. I like it anyway.
Old Folks opens with a solo guitar intro that gives us our best chance to hear Ulf's ballad playing. Overdubbed rhythm guitar comes in momentarily as the head begins. Like all the other standards here, Ulf shows great respect for the melody, letting it shine through unencumbered by lots of showy licks. A good thing for younger players to remember.
I Wish I Knew is played as a bossa nova and, I might add, in the traditional Brazilian style. Ulf lets the melody flow over the band like water and his solo is a nice counterpart to Danielsson's fine bass solo.
A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square This tune is one of my favorites from way back. Played with only guitar/bass/drums backing, this tune becomes fresh in Ulf's hands.
Blues At Night, Ulf's only compositional appearance on the disc, is a relaxed ballad that isn't quite a blues yet captures the essence of blues feeling. The nylong string softens the edge of the tune, yet the mood comes through.
I first heard My One And Only Love on the Johnny Hartman/John Coltrane album. After hearing Johnny sing this, it's hard to listen to any other version of the tune and I tend to be very picky about what I hear. I don't even perform it myself because I haven't come up with a good enough arrangement yet. Ulf, however, does a wonderful job with it. He manages to keep the original feeling of the song while adding an underlying mood with the open strings and chord clusters he uses. Wisely, he doesn't solo very much, just sticking to the tune itself.
Ballad Of The Sad Young Men closes the disc in the same style as it opens. Languid guitar lines over thick synth track with bass and drums on the bottom. Like on the rest of the disc, Ulf plays with great restraint and sensitivity here. It takes a veteran player to do this.
You may notice that I haven't talked very much about soloing and chops on this record. That's because that isn't what this CD is about. It's about the melody. The tune. Every musician should endeavor to put the tune first and I respect Ulf and his players for releasing a whole CD of just beautiful tunes played beautifully. Bravo, gentlemen.