Morten Schantz is a Danish pianist and composer, born in 1980. He met the piano in the late 90s when he was a teenager. He toured five continents with his band JazzKamikaze, which he founded in 2005, and gained musical experiences. My acquaintance with his music, by “Godspeed” the album, strikes the year 2017. After getting to know his music with this album, I also listened to his previous albums. He was accompanied by Marius Neset and Anton Eger on that album. I thought that the musicians whose names you will always hear on the European jazz scene come together and they captured a good electricity in the album. After the album, which is closer to electronic music, durum and bass genres, Schantz’s comeback, which we can probably describe as a return to the roots, was with an acoustic European jazz album full of highly lyrical expressions.
Passenger was recorded at Kole Studios in Copenhagen in May 2020, one of the most intense periods of the pandemic and isolation process, and released in September 16th 2022 via April Records. On the album, he is accompanied by his 15-year companions, double bassist Morten Ankarfeldt and drummer Janus Templeton.
This is their third album together after Convence (my favorite tracks on the album are Love is Blindness by U2 and Bemsha Swing by Monk) released in 2011 and Unicorn released in 2014. Schantz thinks about these two musicians in his mind when he composes. He goes through a three-armed writing process, being aware of the fact that they also have places to contribute, apart from written notes. The result is perceived by the listener as compositions on which a lot of effort has been made. Hancock’s funk-fusion music has a great place in Schantz’s memories of his youth. Then, like almost everyone who touched the piano keys, there were periods filled with the influence of Oscar Peterson, Keith Jarrett, McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea, Joe Zawinful and Brad Mehldau.
Even though the piano is in trio format in the album, guest musicians took part in some tracks. Ayi Solomon on percussion, Anders Banke on flute and clarinet, Nicolaj Henriques on bassoon and Anders Malta on flugelhorn and trumpet with their small and precious touches expanded the sensibility geographies of the album.
Passenger is a very enjoyable contemporary jazz recording that draws the trio form to a line close to pop aesthetics, sometimes elevates the pulse, and sometimes evokes unique feelings with the atmosphere it creates. When I think about Schantz’s past albums, I use the phrase I enjoy using: “A sharp signature album in which fluid lines turn into dynamic sound waves and individual talents are written in silver gray letters“.
It is one of the albums that should be on the listening lists of contemporary jazz lovers.
Listen to album before you buy:
Buy the album directly from the artist in Bandcamp.