Daniel Lantz Trio's third album is a jazz-tinged exploration of the film music of secret agent James Bond, well-timed with the film hero's 50th Anniversary on the big screen in 2012. A born film music enthusiast, pianist Daniel Lantz has sculpted unique statements of the Bond songs for the trio, embellished them with nerve, lyricism, mystique and groove. The trio is joined by two featured soloists: amazing South African vocalist Sani Gamedze, whose influences partly lie with Bond vocalist Shirley Bassey, and reed player Roger Nordling, whose earthy tenor sax and dreamy flute add some jazzy colours to the trio sound. Plays Bond is yet another beautiful venture into cross-musical jazzmanship, which the trio has already excelled at on their previous albums.
The disc impresses with no less than 12 Bond songs hand-picked by Lantz for the trio. While most of them are interpretations of the actual theme songs, such as "Diamonds Are Forever", "Tomorrow Never Dies" and "Moonraker", some of them are actually medleys of musical themes taken from the films they come from, for example "Live And Let Die" which includes a fragment of Cartney's well-loved song, but pairs it with George Martin's moody suspense music from the actual film. Another example is "Goldfinger", which is Bassey's soul-induced theme for a start, but later evolves into some dramatic action music, largely taken from the ending of the film where Goldfinger attempts to rob Fort Knox. As outlined in the album's liner notes, this film music is somewhat of an expertise with pianist Lantz, and his deep knowledge of the music is evident in the elaborate arrangements as those exemplified.
South African vocalist Sani Gamedze is a perfect choice by Lantz to deliver the Bond vocals. Influenced by none other than Bond vocalist numero uno, Dame Shirley Bassey herself, her articulation, deep-rooted vibrato, rhythmic sense and perfect pitch bring some real sparkle to the vocals. Her rendition of "Moonraker" is especially moving, as is the yearning conveyed in "If There Was A Man", one of the forgotten ballads played out as a love theme in "The Living Daylights". Gamedze also works excellently with swingers, such as "Nobody Does It Better" and "A View To A Kill". The standout track where Gamedze's voice shines the best is without question "Diamonds Are Forever"; in the hands of the trio, this famous 70s rock ballad has been transformed into a jazzified reggae, perfectly embracing Gamedze's powerful voice. Quite a fresh twist indeed.
Reed player Roger Nordling contributes with some terrific bebop chops on the tenor sax, as it is so evident that Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane has been influential to his sound. However, what surprisingly springs to mind as Nordling cleverly meanders through the rhythmic takes on "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" and "The James Bond Theme" are in fact legendary alto players such as Cannonball Adderley, as Nordling plays wonderfully in the brighter register that the altos usually inhabit. Nordling switches to flute on Sheryl Crow's easily forgotten "Tomorrow Never Dies" and brings to it a veil of mystery, injecting into this otherwise flat song some much-needed vitamins. Nordling's juicy tenor tone can be best enjoyed on "A View To A Kill", where the slow build-up of melodic energy takes you back to the era of Miles Davis' quintet recording of the 50s and 60s.
Last but not least, pianist Daniel Lantz shines both as a pianist and arranger throughout the album. Lantz' soft pianistic lyricism surfaces on "Goldfinger" and the yearning ballad "We Have All The Time In The World", again showing inspiration from the great Bill Evans. Lantz' more ferocious pianism is employed in the frantic "Live And Let Die" as well as the wonderfully bluesy "Nobody Does It Better", and Lantz' improvisational feel for melody and drama is combined with his impressive technique.
In sum, this is very well-crafted album, featuring the tight Swedish jazz trio on their third outing, as they perform very intelligently built arrangements of an incredible musical treasure trove under the name of James Bond. Soloists Sani Gamedze and Roger Nordling both elevate the interpretations to a higher level and help to create some refreshing variety throughout the programme. As it is the 50th Anniversary of Bond, I suggest you hurry to pick up this fantastic album, enjoy with a Dry Martini, and try not to be too stirred and shaken by the groove that this trio generates. Highly recommended.
NIGEL F. MENDEZ (Canterbury Jazz Review, UK)
Daniel Lantz, piano
Erik Ojala, double bass
Daniel Olsson, drums
Sani Gamedze, vocals
Roger Nordling, tenor sax & flute
Recorded in Uppsala, Sweden, January 27-28 2012 by Anders Westin. Mixed by Daniel Lantz. Mastered by Per Ryberg.
Produced by Daniel Lantz.
Record Label: Do Music Records - www.domusicrecords.com
Official release date: November 6 2012
To be announced ...