Standards consists of a series of standards that were not on the 2017 Kauflin/Fonnesbæk release Synesthesia, where most of the material consisted of original compositions. Justin and Thomas occasionally warmed up for the Synesthesia session by jamming on a few standards – not really considering their release, but more as a means of developing a common language regarding well-known melodies. And since they were in the studio, these functioned as an excellent diversion, after which they could relax with the other takes on the agenda. At the time they even considered deleting these ‘diversions’, which would have been a rather hasty decision! So now you can hear a mix of the ‘left-overs’. There is no editing, which means the numbers were recorded as though it were a live concert, and then mixed. There are two tunes that were on the duo’s first CD – It’s All Right with Me and Nigerian Marketplace – but they both felt that these takes were strong enough to make it in their own right.
The young jazz superstar Justin Kauflin is a pianist, composer and producer. His international recognition proves its worth on this album: He is a precise and playful pianist, but always laid-back and elegant. His style mingles perfectly with the quieter Scandinavian Fonnesbæk and together, their understated approach makes a powerful statement in itself. It’s Kauflin’s simplicity and skill that impresses the listener, his eloquence on the piano never throwing the audience off, but always inviting them to sharpen their senses to the smallest of details. Thomas Fonnesbæk is a fascinating musician who exudes technical brilliance and a superior sense of rhythm, as well as a melodic and harmonic sensitivity reminiscent of Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen that never overshadows his own unique style.
Great art gets us to forget daily life for a moment. It makes us aware of our feelings, our senses and intuition. In the case of jazz, it’s about our being forced to be in the present. At its best, jazz takes us on a creative journey where the musicians are what they do, and do what they are as they merge with their art. When this happens it’s as though the harness of rationality is loosened, giving room for our consciousness to expand while making life look a little bit brighter. Standards is a perfect example of two musicians doing just this.