Jazz Views – Chris Baber
KRUPKA TRIO – Hymns In A Jazz Mood: Vol 2
Ulf Krupka: piano, organ; Line Falkenberg: saxophones; Tine Asmundsen: double bass
Recorded 2nd- 4th July 2018 by George Helmke at Slemmestad Church, Norway.
The idea of merging sacred music with jazz is probably as old as jazz itself; marching bands would most likely be playing hymns as they accompanied mourners to a funeral and, of course, many jazz artists were brought up with gospel music. In terms of a tradition of religious music in jazz, artists like Mary Lou Williams (with her ‘Black Christ of the Andes’) and Duke Ellington (with several hymns in his repertoire) sought to bring to jazz the sensibility of Christian worship (in much the same way that Classical composers had written Masses). As Ellington said (in response to church leaders who were offended by the idea that sacred music could be tarnished by jazz), “Every man prays in his own language, and there is no language that God does not understand.” For Krupka, in this second volume of adaptation of hymns to a jazz trio, the idea is to take hymns out of church and present them so that the ‘speak a language that hopefully many people understand and like.’
While I am unfamiliar with several of the hymns here, Falkenberg’s saxophone playing imbues each piece with grace and elegance that provides sufficient gravitas to the words of each hymn while also inviting a playful engagement with the tune. This playfulness is emphasised by Krupka’s piano playing, with lends a jaunty and folksy air to each piece, and by the sterling bass work of Asmundsen who manages to be both the rhythmic anchor of the trio and to create wonderfully melodic lines of her own. Of the hymns I do recognise, track 4 ‘Mild Jesus’ is introduced with stately pomp as an organ solo before a strutting bass line and overblown sax squawk herald a transformation to a blues version of the tune.
Reviewed by Chris Baber