Personnel: Bent Axen (piano); Frank Jensen, Bent Jaedig (tenor saxophone); Allan Botschinsky (trumpet); Ole Laumann, Erik Molbach, Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen (bass); Jorn Elniff, Finn Frederiksen (drums).
In 1959, modern jazz came of age in Denmark; both Stan Getz and Oscar Pettiford were frequent visitors to the country, and the famous Montmartre club opened. Bent Axen, one of Denmark's top bop pianists, recorded three sessions for the Debut label during a 13-month period, and all of the music has been made available on this 1996 SteepleChase CD. Axen is heard in a working quintet with trumpeter Allan Botschinsky and tenor saxophonist Bent Jaedig on four titles, playing eight others with a sextet that adds Frank Jensen on second tenor, and showcased on seven trio numbers (including a previously unreleased "Jingle Bells"). The latter date is significant for being the recording debut of bassist Niels Pedersen, who was a mere 14 at the time. Throughout the superior set, Axen displays a boppish style influenced by, but not too derivative of Bud Powell. The repertoire mixes together originals with famous American standards. Highly recommended to straight-ahead jazz collectors, this is Bent Axen's definitive jazz release. ~ Scott Yanow