Gerard Presencer

To begin at the end: Kaspar Vadsholt’s bass on Groove Travels is like a tugboat at the mouth of an estuary, softly guiding Presencer’s plaintive trumpet, and what started out as a Billy Nicholls’ composition (I Can’t Stop Loving You), evolves into a nostalgic slow waltz, with the familiar melody.

What is refreshing about Presencer on each of the eight tracks -five original compositions – is the facility with which he shepherds the guiding strength of individual musicians from the scrum of a large orchestra, here the Danish Radio Big Band.

This is evident from his ample annotations: so on Blues for Des, inspired by a West African rhythm, he opts for the Cuban percussionist Eliel Lazo; The Devil’s Larder was originally written for drummer Chris Dagley; Pelle Friddell’s soprano saxophone is given free range on Tango of the Misunderstood, and a beautiful solo on tenor sax by Hans Ulrik is memorable on Wayne Shorter’s Footprints.

These are bonuses, because there is colour and piquancy to Presencer as composer and musician, an insatiable curiosity about the quotidian sounds which invade his air space, and he is always prepared to experiment, such as on Eleanor Rigby where he matches the groove of Mongo Santamaria with the five bar verses of the Lennon-McCartney composition.

Listen to Presencer’s version half a dozen times, and it’s less the Beatles and more a tight rhythm section with Presencer’s flugelhorn and Vadsholt’s bass changing gears.

A member of the Danish Radio Big Band, and featured soloist on US3’s version of Cantaloupe Island and on Rolling Stone Charlie Watt’s jazz projects, Presencer’s gift is distilling and harnessing a distinct style of playing or a hidden note.

Istanbul Coffee Cup has its provenance in the following: listening to a small band playing in a restaurant in Istanbul – he wrote down the rhythm – and coalescing his notes with the vibrato and phrasing of Palestinian trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf.

Tango of the Misunderstood, with Pelle Friddell on soprano tax, is as lusciously warm as the Stan Getz of O Grande Amor or Corcovado, but the key is in the phrasing, the timing of the soloing, with a thrilling seguing between Henrik Gunde on Rhodes piano and Presencer. Perhaps it is imitative of bossa nova, but Presencer is omniprescent, and Groove Travels is distinctly his baby.

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