Tribute to Night Train

“Tribute to Night Train” (recorded in 2007 and released in 2008), both attributed to the “Ed Thigpen Trio” in some and to Carsten Dahl, Jesper Bodilsen and Ed Thigpen in other discographies, is one of those small swinging sessions that came and went within the blink of an eye. Nevertheless, it brought together four different aspects of my own life, which makes this recording all the more enjoyable.

  1. First of all, it’s got Ed Thigpen, my old drum teacher, who was 77 years old when this session was recorded. On top of that, Carsten Dahl, whom I consider to be one of the most important European pianists of the past decades and who, surprisingly, was Ed’s drum student before he finally switched to piano, shines here with a really bluesy approach and is supported by another top-notch European player in high demand, Jesper Bodilsen (bass). All three musicians I have seen in various constellations probably up to a hundred times and more.
  2. The cover is part of my all-time favorite poster, designed in 1937 for DSB (the Danish State Railway) by Aage Rasmussen. The poster is simply stunning and right up my design alley.
  3. It took me a while to hunt down a mint second hand copy of this release and I ended up buying it from Sound Station (I didn’t really realize that until the shipment arrived at my doorstep), a second hand music shop I left thousands of Danish Kroner at when I lived in Denmark and whenever I returned for week and month(s) long visits.
  4. Last but not least, Sound Station is just a few hundred meters away from my old stomping grounds at my old school on Gammel Kongevej in Copenhagen (the school has moved elsewhere since), Denmark.

I became aware of this somewhat odd release when reading around trying to find out what Carsten Dahl has been up to these past few years, trying to avoid his free improvisational jazz sessions which I’m usually not a fan of.

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Tribute to Night Train” was released by “Ploug Partnership Consulting” further out In Frederiksberg, Copenhagen, a consulting company that tried to link business and entertainment and has a website which has been “under construction” for quite some time (they probably went belly up a while back). According to Discogs, they have exactly one CD to their name, this one.

These kinds of swing sessions aren’t all that popular with critics anymore. The Danish magazines and newspapers that did print quick reviews couldn’t really agree on this recording. Jazz Special (Nr. 102, 2008) called it both “lavish” and “superfluous” in one breath, Gaffa was more enthused by the “animated” versions of some old standards, whereas, something I simply cannot agree with, Politiken criticised the session because of Ed Thigpen’s lack of rhythmic “flow“.

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To me, this tribute to “Night Train“, a seminal album by the Oscar Peterson Trio (Peterson, Brown, Thigpen), is a wonderful throwback to times when, yes, “lavish” and melodic swinging sessions were still en vogue, at least in more circles than they are today. The spirit of the original album is kept alive with a sound that, while paying tribute to the original, is unique, with Carsten Dahl infusing his bluesy approach with more of a be-bop sentiment at times and, best of all, with some tracks that are not covers but new tunes in the vein of the original album.

It’s got two versions of Oscar Peterson’s “Hymn to Freedom” opening and closing the album, and Milt Jackson’s “Bag’s Groove” is the only other number from the original “Night Train“. Highlights are Carsten Dahl’s three tribute tunes, one to Bent Jædig (a great Danish saxophone player who passed a way in 2004), one to Tove Enevoldsen (Jædig’s widow) and, of course, a tribute to Ed Thigpen (“Pops on Tops“).

I really like this album, not because my life seems somewhat attached to aspects of the release, but because it’s a really nice relaxed session that you should definitely check out if you are a fan of the classic piano, bass and drums trio.

Carsten Dahl, especially, will make this purchase a worthwhile one.
Trust me.

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Album Tracks:
01. Hymn To Freedom (Oscar Peterson) – 3:04
02. Small Changes (Ed Thigpen) – 3:32
03. D & E (John Lewis) – 3:09
04. Bent J On The Bike (Carsten Dahl) – 1:22
05. You Stepped Out Of A Dream (Gus Hahn/Nacio Herb Brown) – 5:49
06. Bags’ Groove (Milt Jackson) – 4:02
07. Someone To Watch Over Me (George/Ira Gershwin) – 4:42
08. Angel Eyes (Earl Brent/Matt Dennis) – 3:20
09. Summertime (George/Ira Gershwin) – 3:53
10. Pops On Tops (Carsten Dahl) – 3:50
11. Laverne Walk (Jan Johansson) – 4:35
12. Blues For Tove (Carsten Dahl) – 2:57
13. Hymn To Freedom (Oscar Peterson) – 2:18

Personnel: Carsten Dahl (piano), Jesper Bodilsen (bass) Ed Thigpen (drums)
Recorded: At KAEV Studio, Copenhagen, Denmark in 2007.
Mixed by: Kæv Gliemann
Producer: Carsten Dahl
Executive Producer: Blenheim Production
Label: Ploug Partnership Consulting
Artwork: Siegel Design
Illustration: Aage Rasmussen (1937)
Photos By: Jan Presson
Released: Feburary 14, 2008
Catalog-Nr.: PPCM29
Bar-Code: 5-706876-580234

Posted by Volkher Hofmann

Volkher Hofmann (deus62) has been blogging on and off since the 1990s and deus62.com is all that is left. He loves music, literature, drumming and, most of all, real life. He thinks the open web is much more important than social networks, closed-in ecosystems and other severely commercialized online endeavors.

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