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Waldorff shows a gentler side

Torben Waldorff - American Rock Beauty
(Artist Share)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: May 7, 2010
Torben Waldorff

Review by Brad Walseth

Guitarist Torben Waldorff starts things off beautifully on his American Rock Beauty - as opening number "Shark" is a real grabber in a funky fusion vein. Saxophonist Donny McCaslin cavorts joyously over Waldorff's beautiful ringing chords, and they are accompanied by talented players in this endeavor - Jon Cowherd on Fender Rhodes, bassist Matt Clohesy and drummer Jon Wikan. Later, Waldorff takes a solo turn and reveals a high level of technique and tone. Cowherd's delicious acoustic piano centers the country-romp "Shining Through" - which mines the same fields of Americana as Bill Frisell does. McCaslin sounds like he is having a blast playing some good-time gospel, bluesy licks - and the rest of the band fades out - leaving him still soloing away. "Waves" attempts to move the group more into a jazz sound and offers some great electric piano solo by Cowherd. The title track is lovely, with a sensitive guitar solo, while the waltzing "Late" showcases a thrilling solo turns by McCaslin and Waldorff.

The second half of this recording does tend to go in a slower, more subtle direction that builds slowly - as on "Song-Ella" to a climax, while "Scape" ends this album on a peaceful note. Personally, I prefer Waldorff's more uptempo directions and find the first couple tracks the most successful, but I suspect some listeners will enjoy the gentle, lulling nature of much of his music.

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