By JAKOB BAEKGAARD
August 5, 2018
“Four” is a composition written by Miles Davis with lyrics by singer and lyricist Jon Hendricks, but now it is also the name of an album by hitherto unknown Danish singer and jazz crooner Hans Toft-Olsen. Naturally, he sings the song about the four elements that you get out of life: truth, honor, happiness and love. Incidentally, these are also some of the things that make a crooner great. You have got to sing truthfully, embracing the universe of the song. You need a sense of honor when choosing the songs, to avoid wrong choices. You also need zest for life, an ability to communicate moments of happiness, as well as the other side of the coin: sadness. Finally, no singer can avoid treating the subject of love in all its manifold shades.
Toft-Olsen ticks all these four boxes. He has chosen a repertoire of high quality material, chestnuts that he keeps coming back to, including songs like “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye,” “As Time Goes By” and “All the Way.”
The backing on the album is a team of first class players—bassist Thomas Vang, drummer Morten Lund and not least pianist Heine Hansen, a shining lyrical talent whose pearly embellishments frame the mood of the songs perfectly on “That’s All” and “Close Your Eyes.” On the other hand, the understated accompaniment from Vang and Lund creates a luxurious backdrop for Toft-Olsen to unfold his voice. Light with understated bass notes and smooth with rough edges, he rarely soars, but instead shapes the stories with a musical sense of pause and intonation. He is gently ascending at the end of “Every Time We Say Goodbye,” like a car that disappears in the distance, and on “September in the Rain” he adds a lazy cat sense of swing where he has a successful go at scat-singing.
Four is a lovely album of ballads and songs with delicate rhythms and soft swing. It shows that Toft-Olsen has arrived as a crooner and jazz singer with a secure sense of repertoire. Hopefully he will continue exploring the avenues of jazz with his quartet.
Track Listing: Four; That’s All; Close Your Eyes; Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye; September in the Rain; All the Way; Invitation; Round Midnight; It Had to Be You; You’ve Changed; As Time Goes By.
Personnel: Toft-Olsen: vocal; Heine Hansen: piano; Thomas Vang: bass; Morten Lund: drums.
Title: Four | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Aarhusart
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