Toftemark spent five years working in NYC after finishing his studies there. He returned to his native Denmark in 2020 at the start of the pandemic and was given his first record date as a leader by April Records. The only surprise is that he went five years with no record date in New York because he is an experienced bandleader and inventive soloist.
Perhaps this release will gain him some of the recognition he deserves. It is a superior hard-bop style blowing session and he has chosen two originals of his own to start off each side, along with four hardy standards.
First off, the title track has a strong bop tenor solo in the Coltrane tradition, his sound hard but with lyric qualities. On Blue And Sentimental he softens his approach to produce a soft- focus ballad reading at slow tempo. Wisely he fashions his own variations on the melody without reference to classic versions of this piece by Count Basie and Ike Quebec. This is a superior ballad interpretation where he is well supported by the rhythm section.
Love Me Or Leave Me is played slowly at first with the tempo increasing gradually to medium up. Pianist Brickman is a sturdy soloist who plays in a mainly dramatic fashion with block chords but sometimes breaks into fast Tatumesque runs up the keyboard. Andreas Svendsen is a driving, hard swinging drummer who had also worked in NYC and studied at the Manhattan School of Music.
Bassist Felix Moseholm plays with good time and a clean sound although he stays mostly in the background holding down the time. 2223 is the leader’s second original, another uptempo flyer where he stretches out on tenor to good effect for over seven minutes. Autumn In New York gets the full, slow, romantic ballad treatment and the set closes with an original reading of I’m A Fool To Want You.
This Danish quartet are all musicians that are right in the tradition and with something of their own to offer as soloists.
A New York Flight; Blue And Sentimental; Love Me Or Leave Me; 2223; Autumn In New York; I’m A Fool To Want You (42.28)
Toftemark (ts); Calle Brickman (p); Felix Moseholm (b); Andreas Svensen (d). Denmark, August/September 2020.
April Records Apro86LP