Wollesen Ferm: Heart in Hand review – full of unexpected charm

American session drummer Kenny Wollesen and sax player Ned Ferm join forces on a record infused with Scandinavian cool and folk notes

It’s just possible that the dread word “experimental” applies to this music, but happily not the equally dread “challenging”. It’s unusual, certainly, but once you’re tuned in, these 45 minutes are full of unexpected charm. The basis is a set of tunes played by a quartet of saxophone, percussion, guitar and double bass, mostly original compositions with a folkish tinge. To this have been added delicate layers of sound to intensify the mood of each piece, with occasional brief interludes of abstract sound.

It’s the creation of Kenny Wollesen, a noted US session drummer, and Ned Ferm, an American saxophonist long established in Copenhagen, where this work was conceived and largely recorded. The guitarist and bassist are Rune Kjeldsen and Anders Christensen. It was the opening number that grabbed my attention, a fairly straight version of Sonny Boy (1928, Al Jolson). It’s a good tune, and Ferm plays it beautifully. The added sounds do more for the melody than its mawkish lyric ever did. I listened on and enjoyed it all. I think it must be the Scandinavian touch. They can bring these things off without unnecessary fuss.

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