The debut CD of this wonderful hot band, A HOT REUNION, on Herman Records, came out in 2009. So the second one is long overdue, and I am happy to report that it is here, and as delightful as its predecessor. (I am grateful to Trygve Hernaes, the band’s enthusiastic guide and supporter, for enabling me to hear them on disc before I’d met them all in person.)
The band, the Union Rhythm Kings, is a wonderful hot hybrid of Norwegian and Swedish musicians — Kristoffer Kompen, trombone; Bent Persson, trumpet; Lars Frank, reeds; Morten Gunnar Larsen, piano, Frans Sjostrom, bass saxophone; Jacob Ullberger, banjo / guitar. For the geographers keeping score, Kris, Lars, and Morten are from Norway; Bent, Frans, and Jacob from Sweden. The band even has its own Wikipedia page.
What sets the URK apart (and above) many other “traditional” jazz bands is the excellence of their solo and ensemble work, expert and impassioned, and free from cliche. They are inspired by the original recordings and arrangements, but they bring their own energy to the repertoire. They’ve broken free of the Jazz Museum.
On this disc, much of that repertoire is comfortable Morton, Ellington, Armstrong, Luis Russell, and Beiderbecke — but the URK takes pleasure in Jack Purvis and obscure Morton. Thus, CLARINET MARMALADE, CROCODILE CRADLE, DAVENPORT BLUES, SARATOGA SHOUT, HUMPTY DUMPTY, WHEN YOU’RE FEELING BLUE, I DIDN’T KNOW, I AIN’T GOT NOBODY, MILENBERG JOYS, RIVERBOAT SHUFFLE, WHAT’S THE USE OF CRYIN’, BABY, SANTA CLAUS BLUES, BLUES OF THE VAGABOND, SOMEBODY STOLE MY GAL, DUSKY STEVEDORE.
I’ve listened to them with great pleasure at their recent annual appearances at the Mike Durham Classic Jazz Party, and I have some performance video from November 5-8 to share with you — which will embody the band’s virtues better than paragraphs of enthusiastic prose. The great young drummer Nick Ball helps out on all these performances.
Here are four from their Sunday-evening concert:
BLUES OF THE VAGABOND:
and four from the Thursday-night pub session:
In honor of the Luis Russell band, SARATOGA SHOUT:
For solitaries everywhere, I AIN’T GOT NOBODY:
and these last two (with Bix in mind), with Thomas Winteler sitting in for Lars:
JAZZ ME BLUES:
The URK discs (beautifully recorded), can be obtained from Sonor Records AS,
Postboks 4275, NO 7436 Trondheim, Norway. Information at email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Price: NOK 200 or USD 25, packing and postage included. Payment via Paypal, to the email address above.
May your happiness increase!