Back in the latter 20th century, Denmark’s Montmartre jazz club was a haven for ex-pats Dexter Gordon and Ben Webster as well as a stopover point for the likes of Bill Evans. It’s recently re-opened, and Storyville (which released a tone of concerts from there) is bringing out a pair of wonderful gigs that were captured for posterity.
Bassist Eddie Gomez is no stranger to Montmartre as he played there with the Bill Evans trio when the deficit was only in the billions. A duet date with pianist Carsten Dahl from November 9, 2011 brings a handful of standards that are filled with both lyrical melodicism, telepathic interplay and free range improvisation. Gomez’ bass is thick, rich and sonorous as it lays down thick grooves on “I Hear A Rhapsody” and “All The Things You Are” while getting frisky and explorative on ”Autumn Leaves” and a 16 minute “How Deep Is The Ocean.” Dahl, who is known on his own sessions for intellect and coolness, mixes enticing swing, bel canto passion and nimble improvisation on a ruminating “Body & Soul” and the ebullient “There Is No Greater Love.” The Jazz Songbook never sounded fresher!
Pianist Nikolaj Bentzon brings together Tomas Fonnesbaek/b and American Winard Harper for an hour’s set that mixes swing, gospel, blues and bop. Bentzon taps into his inner Gene Harris as he gallops like a stallion on cookers such as “Smile Stacey” and a “Lady Madonna”-inspired “Svetlana Botswana Rusticana.” Oozing melodies that squeeze the feeling out of each note are felt on “Cantilena Elegiaca” and “Flyv Fugi, Flyv” while the teams struts with a cocky jaunt on “Old-Timers.” A hoot of a “My Blue Heaven” even includes some vocals, making this a pair of nights from May 24-25 2013 to remember. This is why you fell in love with jazz in the first place.