Koppel Blade Koppel

Time Again
(Cowbell Music)

Something is glorious in the state of Denmark. It’s this part-tough, part-tender, all-soulful trio session featuring Copenhagen-based father-and-son team Anders (Hammond organ) and Benjamin (tenor saxophone) Koppel. Their drummer-percussionist on this August 2019 date is the American powerhouse Brian Blade, who, as always, irradiates the session with his joy at making music.

Indeed, Blade’s exuberance goes a long way toward defining this album’s character. It’s at his urging that “Mavis” sounds like a New Orleans R&B number, despite its uneasy 7/8 time and chord structure; it’s also he that keeps guest MC Al Agawi, who has a tendency to ignore the syncopation behind him, firmly on task throughout the title track. (Blade takes a solo on that same track, seemingly free yet never letting go of the pulse.) On Kenny Werner’s lovely but sad “Fall From Grace,” Blade mostly plays a loose, open swing; in the tune’s second half, however, his persistent snap on the ride cymbal suggests nagging pangs of … guilt? Doubt? Just plain sorrow? In any case, it’s effective, adding a surprising level of pathos to the song.

Still and all, the album never stops belonging to the Koppels. Blade’s incessant ride on “Fall From Grace” is a supplement to Benjamin’s woeful saxophone voice, his swing a garnish for Anders’ very Lutheran weeping. The organist has a predilection for his high end, which often casts a spookiness over the music; twice, it detours the slow-burn soul of “If You Forget Me” into long, sinister shadows and monster-movie nightmares. The dark side takes over completely on “Bazaar Revisited,” which begins on furtive tiptoe and dissolves into chaos. Yet Benjamin’s smoky but pointed tenor saves us — maybe even, going by his sermonizing on “Should Have Put A Ring On It,” in the biblical sense.

On Sale Now
July 2024
90th Anniversary Double Issue!
Look Inside
Print | Digital | iPad