Ole Matthiessen: Social Distancing

Rating: ★★★

Record and Artist Details


Rune Fog-Nielsen (b)
Jan zum Vohrde (as)
Eliel Lazo (perc)
Lis Wessberg (tb)
Bob Rockwell (ts)
Ole Streenberg (d)
Ole Matthiessen (p)
Henrik Bolberg (t, flhn)




Catalogue Number:



Rec. 23-24 August 2021

The influential Danish pianist-producer Matthiessen, now 75, worked on these 13 pieces during 2020’s lockdown and says they look to both the past and the future. US tenorist Rockwell, a Danish resident for 30 years, and Bolberg (from the Danish Radio Jazz Orchestra) are his regular collaborators and the group know what’s expected of them. And they certainly deliver.

Compositional variety is the winner here, with different moods and colours uppermost. Certain themes are new; others are revivals, refreshed. Some represent the passing seasons in Denmark; tributes like ‘Brother Yusef’ for tenorist Lateef and those for Eddie Harris and Abdullah Ibrahim recall significant influences.

The opening ‘Social Distancing Blues’ is a friendly lope, Rockwell referencing Coltrane in his high-stepping solo before alto enters, similarly intricate over a strong bass line, Matthiessen soloing with a delicate, bluesy touch. ‘Another Me’ also moves well, its thrust suggesting a West Coast meets Blue Note feel, Vohrde and the fragile-sounding Bomberg cruising through the changes, bassist Fog-Nielsen impressive again. ‘Surivanoroc’ has a softer quality, Rockwell serene. Percussion enlivens the riff-based ‘Summer Breeze’ and the Lateef tribute has a funky quality, Rockwell pleasingly soulful while ‘Simple Things’ for Harris is a jubilant percussion-led romp with some nicely foggy trombone. The final ‘South African Sunrise’ for Nelson Mandela came from watching the great man’s release back in 1990 and is suffused with the right kind of township optimism. A good note to end on.

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