Kasper Tranberg: Nobody’s Heart

In trio, the Danish trumpeter sings, swings, flurries and abstracts over tunes by Rodgers & Hart, Ornette Coleman, Paul Motian and others


Danish trumpeter Tranberg (born 1971) is one of his country’s most noted contemporary improvisers. A winner of the prestigious Ben Webster Prize, he has worked with, a.o., John Tchicai, Fredrik Lundin, Yusef Lateef, Django Bates and Gianluigi Trovesi. Active on the Danish scene for some three decades, Tranberg has a most soulful, rounded yet crisp sound and can sing and swing, “flurry” and “abstract” to delicious effect.

There are three things to emphasise about music which documents the many qualities of a trio who have worked together since the early 1990s. First up is the quality of the recording, which brings out every etched and dynamically interactive detail of the session. Second is the poetics of the surpassing musicianship. Here is the sort of big yet also intimate sound picture which should appeal strongly to anyone drawn to the work of, say, Don Cherry, Bill Dixon, Kenny Wheeler or Wadada Leo Smith. The third factor to note is the eclectic yet integrated programme, which feature pieces which have long had a special meaning for Tranberg (whose pithy sleeve note emphasises the “exploratory passion” with which the musicians seek to play).

Apart from the Rodgers and Hart title track, the music comes from some of the most resonant practitioners of recent decades: Masabumi Kikuchi (Little Abi), Ornette Coleman (Virgin Beauty), Jimmy Garrison (Gettin’ On Way) and Paul Motian (Circle Dance). And there are characterful pieces also from Danish saxophonist Jesper Zeuthen and Swedish drummer Bengt Berger (Ukendt / Bitter Funeral Beer), Danish bassist Anders Christensen (My Bad) and his compatriot, the guitarist, singer and songwriter CV Jørgensen (En Stor Dag).

Throughout, the compelling blend of Tranberg’s lucid phrasing and golden sound is complemented by the spacious dynamics, rhythmic authority and overall imagination of the excellent Davidsen and Rifbjerg. Check the floated yet energising cross-rhythms of Virgin Beauty, the assertive riffing of Circle Dance, juicy three-way swing of Gettin’ On Way and My Bad, or the gravely arresting lyricism of En Stor Dag. To my ears, jazz but rarely comes any better than this.

Little Abi; Virgin Beauty; Gettin’ On Way; Nobody’s Heart; Circle Dance; Ukendt / Bitter Funeral Beer; My Bad; En Stor Dag (43.02)
Tranberg (t); Nils Davidsen (b); Frans Rifbjerg (d). Copenhagen, 12 April 2022.
April Records APR 111CD