Walter Hansen – Perspective
Jazz aficionados and the typical music fan alike will enjoy Walter Hansen’s five song EP Perspective. The talented producer, songwriter, and saxophonist makes his distinctive presence felt on each of the tracks while playing off the surrounding instruments quite nicely. Hansen’s musical journey began at the age of four when he was first introduced to the accordion and his transition over to a woodwind instrument elevated his musical ambitions to a higher level. He graduated from the renowned Florida State University School of Music and spent some time as a member of the United States Navy band based in Bagnoli, Italy. His wide experiences, deep musical skill, and undeniable emotional connection to this material makes Perspective one of the hidden jazz oriented gems of 2016 and its rising profile has continued well into 2017. Hansen is a singular talent quite unlike many other performers who have attempted to modernize the jazz genre with decidedly mixed results; Perspective has a thoroughly modern sound, but his obvious familiarity with the genre’s traditions make this even more successful.
“I Miss You” is just the strong opener that this EP needs to get off to the best of all possible starts. Hansen’s saxophone playing is the stuff of purist’s dreams; he invokes imagery through the emotive use of his instrument and his command over the melody is absolute. The drumming on this track is the best you will hear on Perspective. There’s a little light use of keyboards in the song to help flesh it out further and make it such a memorable piece. “My Song” has a bit more of an experimental air as Hansen incorporates ambient sound effects into the composition, but its suggestiveness is functional rather than ornamental and resounds with the listener long after the final notes fade. The chief strength of these songs lies with their melodies and Hansen’s playing on this particular number is one of the EP’s best displays of melodic musicianship. It comes at an excellent place in the running order, as well, thanks to how well it complements the opening number.
His vocals emerge with the track “You”, but the saxophone takes a backseat here in favor of an atmospheric wash of electronica that knows when to press ahead and when to back away. His singing isn’t nearly as virtuosic as his talents with the saxophone, but he’s a more than serviceable singer who knows how to let a song get under his skin and the lyrics are quite literate and tasteful. “Find My Way” has some of the melancholy air detected in the first two tracks, but it has more variation. The climaxes in the arrangement have tremendous spirit and never complete cede ground to the melancholy characterizing other sections of the song. “Beautiful Day” pairs nicely with the aforementioned track because it possesses much more abashed, pastoral joy that Hansen’s playing communicates quite well. Perspective shows us more than a few sides to this tremendous musician’s musical character and will likely leave listeners clamoring for more.
9 out of 10 stars