X Variations (Audial Records, 2011) is a social and political statement by
pianist Soren Moller. Named for King Christian X’s effort to protect
Danish Jews from Nazis during World War II, the set is Moller’s
celebration of everyone who stands against discrimination and mistreatment
The music was recorded live in concert at Ronshoved Hosjkole in Denmark.
Although the performance sounds like what you might expect from a live
show, the recording does not include audience reaction or any vocal
Two tracks are done by the quartet of Moller; Dick Oatts , saxophones;
Josh Ginsburg, bass; and Henry Cole, drums. For the other songs, the Kirin
Winds join in. The players are Jorunn Solloes, flute; Sai Kai, oboe;
Nicolai Eghorst, clarinet; Jeppe Rasmussen, horn; and Catarina Zeh,
bassoon. Rather than thematic or inspirational titles, the tracks are
simply titled sequentially, according to the lineup.
“Nonet I” is a 10-minute piece that digs deep into Moller’s musical
consciousness. From the first bar, it explores several moods, featuring
different leads. At times, it’s a cool jazz song, but then it shifts into
something of an orchestral overture. Oatts plays the soprano sax with the
kind of verve reminiscent of Coltrane.
“Kvartet II” is a straightforward piece. With a bright tempo, the leads of
Moller and Oatts carry the tune. Cole shines in the background but also
has a brief solo, mixing some deft work on the high hats with timely
cymbal crashes and tom rolls. The piano is intense in its support of the
tenor sax. Oatts makes the latter instrument scream during some of the
more passionate phrases.
Moller began playing piano at age 8, and has studied in Copenhagen as well
as New York City. His educational and professional associations include
Kenny Barron, Chris Washburne, Ole Mathison and Fred Hersch. Christian X
Variations further solidifies Moller’s standing as a composer and