Tag Archives: Hans Jorgen Hansen

“SWEET LIKE THIS”: The SCANDINAVIAN RHYTHM BOYS “KEEP HOT”

At the end  of last year, a wonderful CD arrived in the mail — by one of my favorite [not sufficiently well-known] small bands, the SCANDINAVIAN RHYTHM BOYS, a fertile crescent of hot jazz supervised beautifully by banjoist / singer Michael Boving.

Here are some necessary details:

CD-sweet-3a

and the front:

SCANDINAVIAN RHYTHM BOYSand the liner notes by Twenties jazz authority Matt Chauvin:

Notes for SWEET LIKE THIS SRB

The SRB has (or have) been making music since 1997, and we are all the richer for their devotion to the art.

They do not seek to reproduce precisely hallowed recordings.  Rather, they take memorable melodies and great spirit and make them their own.  And they are wise as well as swinging: songs are presented with their verses, and at tempos that feel just right.  They respect the music, but their playing isn’t pedantic; rather, one can feel an impudent playfulness bubbling up from beneath.

Some readers might wonder whether the SRB are a quartet trying to sound like a full ensemble.  Heavens, no: a deep listening session with this disc might make you wonder why other bands need those additional musicians, the overall music and musicality is so satisfying.  And the instrument-doubling comes off beautifully, giving the disc (and the band) an ever-changing variety.  In the age of extended performance, others might wonder why the SRB performances are uncharacteristically brief.  The answer is also brief: they can do more in three minutes than some bands can do all week.

Consider, for a moment, WANG WANG BLUES — which runs just over three minutes.  A brief tour, if you will allow me. The sprightly performance starts with the verse, agile clarinet taking the lead over trumpet commentary and stringed rhythm.  Then, some neat riffing by the horns.  When the band shifts into the chorus, the clarinet is still in the lead, with trumpet echoing the melody, the banjo and string bass making themselves heard and felt.  This section (the first third of the performance) is a sweet throwback to the hot dance records of the Twenties and early Thirties: let the dancers hear the melody, neatly harmonized or in unison, to dance to.  No violent improvisations, no hot polyphony.  Not yet.  At this point, many bands would launch into solos or into ensemble jamming.  But the SRB has other things, very happy ones, in mind. The instruments stop, and the four musicians sing the chorus a cappella, Michael leading them, then repeat it, adding rhythm.  It’s utterly charming, and makes me think happily of a vaudeville act where the musicians did everything to entertain.  Vocal interlude over, the horns set a Basie-out-of-Louis harmony riff behind an arco bass statement of the melody (with nice intonation) backed by banjo.  (Incidentally, Michael is a very subtle banjo artist, a model for those who choose that instrument.)  The final forty-five seconds of this performance offer a gentle mix of polyphony, trumpet in the lead, with a few passages where the horns take the famous melody lines together.

When I first heard this performance, I got stuck on it — and it wasn’t a defect in the disc.  I played it five or six times in a row, delighting in its fresh generosity. And its honesty: it continues to feel authentic to me, deep music made by people who have chosen it as their vocation.

Hear for yourself!  Click the top-right speaker icon hereI rest my case.

The SRB is busy making “old” music fresh, lively, and new.  I salute them.  To purchase the CD, please email Michael Bøving at srbjazz@srbjazz.com — or, if you feel like a chat, his phone is 0045 31230292.

And “Keep hot” is how Michael signs his letters and emails.  A good spiritual philosophy.

May your happiness increase! 

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NEW FACES, NEW BABY: THE SCANDINAVIAN RHYTHM BOYS TAKE TO THE WATER

The little band known as the Scandinavian Rhythm Boys has long been one of my favorite hot ensembles.  They have a new front line, with trumpeter Leif Blunck and Hans Jorgen Hansen on bass sax, clarinet and soprano.  Michael Boeving remains on banjo and expressive vocals and Ole Olsen on the string bass.  The video was recorded July 12 on a Copenhagen harbor cruise (as part of the 2012 Copenhagen Jazz Festival) by an Italian fan, Alessandro, whom we all thank!  For more about the SRB, visit here.

And the New Baby remains the same, joyously:

May your happiness increase.

“KEEP HOT!”

In THE SPIRIT OF LOUIS, 2009, not long ago, I posted three video performances where the Scandinavian Rhythm Boys were joined by one of the remaining Elders, clarinetist Joe Muranyi.  (https://jazzlives.wordpress.com/2009/11/02/the-spirit-of-louis-2009/)

If those videos eluded you, or the SRB are new to you, here they are, in Toronto, playing BLUE (and BROKEN-HEARTED).  The “Boys” in this incarnation are Hans Jorgen Hansen, bass saxophone and other reeds; Robert Hansson, trumpet; Paul Waters, bass; Michael Bøving, banjo and vocal.  And the nicely-done video is by Flemming Thorbye, who has preserved so much fine jazz on YouTube.   

I find this very affecting.  It takes experience to play with such emotion yet to be so restrained.  As the late Leroy “Sam” Parkins often said, a group like this is in no hurry; they are taking their time.  And they get there!

A package arrived the other day, STARDUST, a CD with two sessions by the SRB — one with Joe Muranyi.  I had been impressed with the YouTube clips I had seen, but they were nothing compared to the sound of the SRB in the recording studio.  For one thing, the studio itself is spacious — I would guess that the musicians get to see each other and hear other without baffles and headphones.  Thus the result is like being very close up to a live performance in a space with ideal acoustics and ambiance. 

And the SRB plays its collective heart out, without strain.  Waters’ bass is propulsive without being pushing; his slap-technique is never monotonous or wooden.  Hansen has a fine, eloquent facility on all his horns, and he is a masterful ensemble player.  Boving is a steady, serene banjoist without the excesses of enthusiasm often connected to that instrument, and he is a compelling singer — idiosyncratic but with a huge, exuberant voice and attack, a heroic vibrato that made it seem as if every song was his own personal, passionate utterance.  And Hansson is simply a magnificent trumpeter — with a casual daring that honors Louis and Bix, without copying their phrases.  His easy mountain-scaling reminded me of Hackett, Cheatham, and Bob Barnard — and it’s supported by a sophisticated harmonic and rhythmic awareness.  Muranyi, the guest star, brings his own amused fervor to the proceedings, whether playing or singing his own gleeful I DIG SATCH.  And the SRB, with or without Joe, is clearly having fun without being self-consciously silly.  They are a wonderfully rewarding band, and this CD is just delightful, with repertoire that goes from Handy to Lyttelton to Jobim and back to Bix-associated tunes without anything sounding forced.  (A prize goes to listeners who recognize the Armstrong ending that brilliantly concludes SMILES!)

The CD is available through the SRB website (www.srbjazz.com.) and email inquiries can be sent to srbjazz@srbjazz.com

And my title?  It’s how Michael Boving signed his little note along with the CD.  The music it contains shows that he and his colleagues are keeping the faith.