AUGUST * Album Of The Month *
(5 / 5)
Smokers Lounge. Never heard of ’em. No pre-conceived ideas then, when this album arrived with a few more, for me to review.
I was having a mare of a day too, and not in the greatest of moods. Washing machine on the fritz, aka knackered! Mobile phone also bust. Less cash in my online account than I had imagined, so repairs or replacing them was on hold.
A few other flies in the ointment that day too. So, deep breath, count to 10, make a cup of tea, get off the PC and bung some new albums on while I chill out on the sofa for a couple of hours, methinks. First on the CD player this one: “Secret”. From Smokers Lounge.
Got to say, had no clue what genre it was, as I tend to ignore PR bumph before first listen. Sultry black and white image on the cover. Smokers Lounge. Hmmmm….Rock maybe? Indie? Punk? Wrong. Way off the mark. Gorgeous soulful jazz fusion instrumentals x eight. Classy as heck. Put me in mind of Brecker Brothers territory at times.
All songs composed by the band apart from a Quincy Jones cut, “Eyes Of Love”. Smokers Lounge are top Danish session cats Jens Haack on saxophones, Ben Bisiakov on keyboards and bass, Mikkel Nordso on guitar, bass, synth, percussion and drum programming, plus guests Eliel Lazo and Federico Nelson on percussion, Frederik Nordso on digital drums and DJ Mashti providing “drumbeat”.
In 2011 Jens, Mikkel and Ben released the album “Smokers Lounge” in collaboration with the DR/Danish National Chamber Orchestra. In 2022 the three old friends reconvened for the second Smokers Lounge album “Secret”, after a 11 year hiatus.
They first met at a music and youth summer programme at High School in 1970, and three years later, Mikkel Nordso co-founded the group Buki Yamaz, who dropped their debut album in 1975, which both Ben and Jens also appear on.
The first Smokers Lounge long player was all covers from The Great American Songbook, but this new one is all originals apart from the one cover. It straddles soul, jazz, jazz-rock, a lovely fusion of electric guitar, keyboards and sax’ with the groove nailed on. No issue at all in giving this one our maximum five stars and suggesting to the editor it gets the magazine’s ‘Album of the month’ accolade. He wholeheartedly agrees.
Jens Haack is a major league sax’ man with a long career as a studio session man on many recordings by major pop and rock names, and co-founder of the band Moonjam, for whom he played sax’ for 15 years.
Ben Besiakov was close to jazz legend Ben Webster. Guitarist Mikkel Nordso has played and recorded with Stanley Clarke, George Duke, Gary Burton, David Sanborn, Randi Brecker and many more.
The chemistry between these talented guys is palpable, as it would be after five decades of playing together in a variety of projects. They hit the motherload with this one and if they leave it another 11 years until the next one, I shall never buy Danish bacon again in protest!
Smokers Lounge: It’s no secret any more, chaps. Godt arbejde…
Review by Les Howard
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’