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Album Review

Heavy Nights finds Passport founder and veteran sax man Klaus Doldinger in rare form. On this offering from 1986, the veteran sax player delves into the world of pop-jazz. Although, given his vast palette and the different settings here, it would be a mistake to simply call Heavy Nights a pop-jazz record. Doldinger's tastes have always been eclectic and he brings his own unique jazz contributions to the table. Furthermore, he possesses that rare ability to produce jazz that is accessible without having to sacrifice substance in the process. Whatever you chose to call it, Heavy Nights is just great music. The songs here range from the playful "Bahia Praia" to the upbeat, big-band feel of "It's Magic." On board for this incarnation of Passport are Kevin Mulligan (guitar), Dieter Petereit (bass), Curt Cress (drums), Herman Weindorf (keyboards), and Victoria Miles (vocals). The performances of this lineup are certainly noteworthy throughout, but Heavy Nights is really a one-man show. Doldinger takes charge here performing, producing, arranging, and, composing all of the tracks. As expected, he excels in all of these areas, but it's his ability to speak in cohesive melodic sentences that are both lyrically and emotionally satisfying, and which makes this disc so enjoyable. The melodies aren't just good, they're memorable. The beautiful "Forever," as romantic a piece as you will find, is not just memorable, it actually borders on unforgettable. In addition, Doldinger's distinct phrasing punctuates each of the tracks adding the dramatic pauses that help to distinguish Heavy Nights. The arrangements, for the most part, are straightforward with a few twists thrown in. Doldinger makes wonderful use of the sparseness constructing interesting passages that enhance the mood of each piece. On almost all of the tracks, Doldinger handles the lion's share of the soloing chores. Not surprisingly, his focus and restraint speak volumes. When he steps forward he delivers, and when appropriate he steps back, allowing his bandmembers and session people to add the right touches. Benny Bailey's flügelhorn solo on the title track, for instance, is the perfect contrast to Doldinger's tenor sax, and is one of the records highlights. Some of the other stand-out tracks include the atmospheric "Here Today," and the jazzy "Easy Come, Easy Go." As he has been known to do, Doldinger continually experimented and found new directions for Passport. The rock guitar-based Running in Real Time and the spacy Earthborn, also from this era, are both noteworthy. Heavy Nights, though, is arguably the high-water mark for Doldinger thus far.

Heavy Nights, Klaus Doldinger's Passport
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  • $7.92
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Fusion
  • Released: Nov 13, 1986

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