How one is perceived is a funny thing. In New Orleans, reedman Christian Winther is thought of by many as residing in the traditional jazz setting. Indeed, he did pick up his abandoned clarinet when in 1997 he moved to the Crescent City from his native Denmark. And yes, it was the New Orleans classic style that lured him into jazz in the first place. However, he put aside his clarinet and switched to tenor saxophone and moved into the modern jazz mode after hearing artists like John Coltrane and Charlie Parker.
On Refuge in Sound, Winther, with tenor in hand, teams with some of this generation’s finest and most sought-after modern jazz musicians. This able crew, with pianist Allyn Johnson, bassist Reuben Rogers, guitarist Mike Moreno and drummer Billy Williams Jr., work with intuition on an album rich with Winther’s fine originals.
The material is entirely straight-up jazz in the best sense of the term. There’s a lot of swinging as heard on “Blues Life.” Winther’s tone remains pure whether he’s blowing hot lines or caressing a ballad like “One for Mulgrew,” dedicated to the late great pianist Mulgrew Miller. Naturally, pianist Johnson, who shines throughout the session, brings much emotion to this tribute that includes vocals by Christie Dashiell.
Christian Winther is in good company and is good company among this group of ace players. As a musician and composer, he wears his modern jazz with style and grace.