Russian Muse: Niels Lan Doky



Another fine album in my recently-begun mini-series on Danish music.  Niels Lan Doky, is a jazz pianist with a gold plated CV.  At the age of 15 he played with veteran trumpeter Thad Jones who was so impressed that he recommended the Danish-Vietnamese teenager to the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston.  Since becoming a professional musician he has worked with or had the services of John Scofield, Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw, Jack DeJohnette, Bob Berg, Clark Terry and Tom Harrell amongst others.  Though he worked out of New York for several years, he is currently based in Paris and as such is not as well-known as he should be in the USA.

Niels Lan Doky

Niels Lan Doky

The album in the spotlight today is from 2012 in which Doky interprets the works of several Russian classical composers such as Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky and Tchaikovsky. The piano playing is very lyrical and fluid and his jazz accompanists are equally adept at making these pieces take on new life.

Here is AMG’s review.

Pianist Niels Lan Doky explores classical music by seven different Russian composers who were active during the 19th and 20th centuries. Joined by drummer Alex Riel and bassist Pierre Boussaguet, several of Doky‘s arrangements leave much of the romanticism of the original works intact as he plays variations of their famous themes, gradually converting Modest Mussorgsky’s “Promenade” (from Pictures at an Exhibition) into a bluesy vehicle, though his adaptation of Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumble Bee” is a full-fledged, high-octane post-bop improvisation, not introducing its theme until near the end of the performance. The arrangement of Tchaikovsky‘s “Theme from Violin Concerto in D Major” is in honor of the late bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen and a lush feature for Boussaguet and the leader, accompanied by Riel‘s sensitive brush work. Doky’s originals fit in beautifully with the concept of this remarkable CD, sounding like modern classics themselves, though without a Russian flavor, especially the Impressionistic “Improvised Colours,” which the trio evidently created on the spot during the recording sessions.

Russsian front russian back

Track Listing:

01 Pictures at an Exhibition

02 Theme from Suite Italienne

03 Theme from Piano Concerto No. 2 – First movement

04 Theme from Love For Three Oranges Suite

05 Theme from Piano Concerto No. 2 – First movement

06 Theme from The Nutcracker

07 Theme from Violin Concerto in D Major

08 Simonova

09 Flight of the Bumble Bee

10 Theme from Piano Concerto No. 2 – Third

11 Misty Dawn

12 Improvised Colours



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