Jan Harbeck Quartet – ‘The Sound The Rhythm’ – CD Review

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Danish Music Award winner Jan Harbeck leads his own quartet as they share their fifth album under Stunt Records, The Sound The Rhythm. The Jan Harbeck Quartet has released notable albums over the past decade that feature amongst the best-selling Danish instrumental jazz records to date. Having received the illustrious Ben Webster Prize in 2018, Harbeck has found inspiration to assemble an album that pays homage to his saxophone legacy.

A quartet that primarily focuses on modern acoustic jazz, the ensemble combines Harbeck’s own compositions with niche jazz standards. However, Harbeck is no stranger to keeping the Swing tradition present. His expressive and soft sound is warm but with contemporary inflections. “When I was young, I concentrated on what I was playing; now the music comes by itself; the sound and tone are the essence for me. It needs to be full-bodied and the feeling has to be there. Ben Webster was my first inspiration, and then Paul Gonsalves. It’s the tradition I love. It’s about playing from the heart. It’s a sound, a language,” Harbeck says. This couldn’t be more true about ‘The Sound The Rhythm’, an album that greatly admires the success of Ben Webster yet includes modern twists.

The album showcases four compositions by Ben Webster, one by Billy Strayhorn, ‘Johnny Come Lately’ and five of Harbeck’s own originals. Webster’s selection; ‘Poutin’, ‘Woke Up Clipped’, ‘Shorty Gull’ and ‘I’d Be There’ all displaying a rightful tribute but also a unique approach. A particular shout out to ‘Shorty Gull’, this track is driven by a drum battle between Ærø and Holm. ‘I’d Be There’ features a guest appearance from alto saxophonist Jan zum Vohrde playing the esteemed role of Johnny Hodges. It was a shame to only hear him on this tune as the relationship between the two horns was greatly cherished, perhaps a project for the future?

My highlight of the album is ‘Blues Crescendo’. Overall a simple structure as the title suggests, but the outburst of colour, tone and control from all musicians is positively thrilling. The track begins with a chromatic and somewhat entertaining dissonant piano introduction by Gunde. Harbeck then boldly states the head before gently blossoming into a ferocious solo. I’m struggling to think of any blues standards that could beat this. Other original compositions by Harbeck on the album include ‘Tangorrus Field’, a tango ballad that is brimming with flair and sending shivers down my spine.

“We love the generosity in the music and I hope that the lush, atmospheric, and intimate space is transcended from the record,” says Harbeck. A statement in which I agree with, this album displays all aspects of Webster as well as Harbeck’s own fresh style.


Artists website: Jan Harbeck

CD Review by Thomas Fletcher

Photo credits: Karolina Zapolska – and (c) info: all rights go to original recording artist/owner/photographer(s).

Track Listing:

1. Lighter Shades | 2. Johnny Come Lately | 3. Tangorrus Field | 4. Poutin | 5. Woke Up Clipped | 6. Blues Crescendo | 7. Shorty Gull | 8. I’d Be There | 9. Tail That Rhythm | 10. Circles

Line Up:

Jan Harbeck – Tenor Saxophone

Henrik Gunde – Piano

Eske Nørrelykke – Upright Bass

Anders Holm – Drums

Morten Ærø – Drums

Jan zum Vohrde – Alto Saxophone

Release Date: 22 March 2019

Format: CD | LP | Streaming

Label: Stunt Records

YT Video: Jan Harbeck Channel

Last modified: August 26, 2019