So Nice Duke Duke Jordan Trio


So Nice Duke, Duke Jordan Trio, Duke Jordan, piano; Jesper Lundgaard, bass; Aage Tanggaard, drums; Master Music XRCD24-NT013. As usual I feel more than a little self-conscious writing about jazz. I know little about jazz musicians and jazz repertoire, being all wrapped in a different musical milieu altogether. But thanks to Kevin Berg of Elusive Disk (who sell audio gear as well as media from LP to SACD) I occasionally get a chance to hear fine examples of classic jazz recordings. And when an album of this sheer perfection comes along, when I hear music that makes me feel like I’ve come home to a focal point in the celebration of life, I’ve just got to say something about the experience and the amazing musicians who make it possible.

As for my particular tastes in jazz, I’ve always shied away from big band and gravitated to small ensembles with their suggestion of night clubs, a kind of community sharing in spontaneous melody and rhythm, music of the body as well as the soul. So Nice Duke is a superlative example. 

Like so many great jazz recordings, it has that special sense of heart to heart connection, that overflowing aesthetic intimacy that seems rarer and more precious than ever. It’s like a melding of composer, performer and listener on an aesthetic plane for which words are simply inadequate. It is a glimpse of perfection.

This album was recorded live on analog tape at the So Nice club in Nagoya, Japan on June 14, 1982 and was originally released on the Three Blind Mice label, reissued here by Master Music. JVC’s XRCD division have done their magic once again and given us a Redbook CD of impeccable sonic credentials, capturing tonality, dynamics and ambient detail like few other CDs can boast. 

Again, I am in no position to make pronouncements about jazz musicianship, but I find the playing of this trio unusually exciting in its emotional precision and virtuosity. Jordan’s playing is of course the heart of the trio. He practically defines groovy; relaxed, precise, inventive. Aage Tanggaard on the drum set and Jesper Lundgaard on acoustic bass are amazingly inventive and yet totally supportive and perfectly in sync with Jordan. 

One of my all-time favorites, My Funny Valentine, is full of an apprehensive sweetness and longing, a sincerity that ranks it right up there with the classic version from the Gerry Mulligan-Chet Baker Quartet. All the cuts are great but the high point of the album is Duke Jordan’s well-known composition Jor-du. And the high point of Jor-du comes around four minutes in with an exchange between Jordan and Tanggaard that has to be one of the great dialogs in all of jazz. Simply brilliant.

For all I know, this CD is an acknowledged classic, cherished by jazz lovers all over the world. If it isn’t, it certainly ought to be. I may be a greenhorn, but I know greatness when I hear it.