By Josef Woodard | Published December 2018
Veteran Danish guitarist Pierre Dørge has traversed many contexts during the past few decades. On Soundscapes, Dørge, alongside a malleable group of three horns, stretches in appealing ways, branching out into new terrain.
The album opens with “Mingus’ Birthday Party,” which counts some identifiably Mingus-esque twists of earthy, arty melody, then moves into “Lullaby For Sun Ra.” That “lullaby” nods in the direction of that late artist’s musical thinking, a mediation between tradition and experimentation central to Dørge’s ethos. The guitarist offers a tenuous, echoey tone and a spindly rhythmic sense, sometimes leaning into the sound of oozing chords via volume-pedal swells, which can sound slightly at odds with his acoustic allies’ richer sonorities. While the leader provides a sturdy compositional foundation and guides players through varied terrain, the star soloists are the organically virtuosic trombonist Conrad Herwig and tenor saxophonist Stephen Riley, who summon muscular might or lyrical breathiness in balladic moments. Down in the rhythm section, bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Adam Nussbaum provide the necessary flex, swing and grounding for Dørge’s latest musical gaming project.
Soundscapes: Mingus’ Birthday Party; Lullaby For Sun Ra; Enigmatic Twilight; Alligator In Paradise; Bambla Jolifanti; Afrikaa Mbizo Dyani; A Rose For Laurent; Mirjam’s Dada Dance; Sim Sim Ba. (61:36)
Personnel: Pierre Dørge, guitar; Kirk Knuffke, cornet; Stephen Riley, tenor saxophone; Conrad Herwig, trombone; Jay Anderson, bass; Adam Nussbaum, drums.