Jazz Album Recommendation: NIGHT TRAIN TO COPENHAGEN (Alvin Queen Trio on Stunt Records)

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by Connor McCormick on February 22, 2022

in CD-DVD,Music


Alvin Queen arrived on the scene in the late 1960s, and quickly became known as the drummer for jazz icons including Horace Silver, Randy and Michael Brecker, George Benson, Tom Harrell, and many others… Even with this astounding resumé, Queen is still perhaps best known as the longtime rhythmic anchor in the Oscar Peterson Trio. With Alvin’s arrival in the band, the pianist’s playing reached new heights, and Queen remained in the group until Peterson’s passing in 2007. Although his drumming style is uniquely personal, it contains clear traces of influence from Elvin Jones – who was Queen’s mentor from the age of 11. The junior drummer’s broad, authentic mastery of a vast range of jazz styles and vocabularies would grow to extend even beyond that of Elvin, placing him in a league with the likes of Philly Joe Jones, Max Roach, and Art Blakey.

On his new album, NIGHT TRAIN TO COPENHAGEN (produced by the Danish pianist Niels Lan Doky), Queen chose two young and extraordinary musicians – Sweden’s Calle Brickman on piano and the Danish bassist Tobias Dall. Both impressed the drummer with their developed, versatile voices, and are two shining examples of the strength found in a younger generation of jazz musicians on the present-day Copenhagen scene.

Most of the repertoire selected for the album is borrowed from two of Oscar Peterson’s most popular recordings, 1963’s NIGHT TRAIN and 1964’s WE GET REQUESTS – but in this case, the tunes are reimagined through modern arrangements. When listeners are treated to reinventions of classics like Rodgers & Hart’s “Have You Met Miss Jones?”,  it’s difficult to imagine a drummer ever swinging harder than Queen. On Duke Ellington’s iconic ballad, “I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good)”, Alvin offers stunning lyrical sensitivity, while on Goodbye JD, his fiery energy knows no bounds. Queen’s drumming is nothing less than brilliant in any context, and as both an accompanist and bandleader he elevates everything and everyone around him.

The album was recorded in Denmark in March of 2021 and was christened NIGHT TRAIN TO COPENHAGEN – a reference to Oscar Peterson’s most famous release and a tribute to the Danish capital and its significant role in jazz history. From the late 1950s, a remarkable number of American expat jazz musicians settled in Copenhagen, including Stan Getz, Oscar Pettiford, Dexter Gordon, Ben Webster, Ed Thigpen, Mercer Ellington, Kenny Drew, Thad Jones, Ernie Wilkins, and many others. This rich history created the basis for what has today become a vibrant, broad, and lively jazz scene. This is not secret to Danish jazz audiences, but to those who haven’t yet experienced it firsthand: come on by, if you get the chance! This wonderful album with Alvin Queen and his trio represents the past, present, and future of what jazz was, is, and will be.

  1. Have You Met Miss Jones? (3:44)
  2. Bags Groove (3:31)
  3. I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good) (4:17)
  4. Farewell Song (2:39)
  5. Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars (Corcovado) (3:03)
  6. The Days of Wine and Roses (2:39)
  7. Goodbye JD (3:33)
  8. Tranquility in the Woods (I skovens dybe stille ro) (2:19)
  9. D & E (3:15)
  10. Georgia on My Mind (4:49)
  11. Night Train (4:16)
  12. C Jam Blues (3:06)
  13. People (3:43)
  14. Moten Swing (3:46)
  15. Some Other Time (3:45)

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