SUSANNE ALT is an acclaimed Dutch saxophonist and, we’re told, a crowd-pleasing DJ. Amsterdam-based, pre-Covid, she was always busy – playing over a hundred gigs each year many with the wonderful Roy Hargrove whenever the much-missed horn man was in Europe.
The pandemic put an end to gigging, of course, and Ms Alt used the enforced lay off to re-focus on jazz and eventually she started to put together an album which she has dedicated to Hargrove. That long plyer, ‘Royalty For Real’ is all set for release on February 16th via Venus Tunes.
The album was recorded in New York’s East Side Sound studios and the side players include Bassist Gerald Cannon (who played in Elvin Jones’ band for years and served as McCoy Tyner’s musical director), drummer Willie Jones III (who has toured with the likes of Milt Jackson and Arturo Sandoval) and keyboardist James Hurt (who’s worked with people like Abbey Lincoln). Interestingly Cannon and Jones played together in Roy Hargrove’s own band for seven years.
With that pair in the engine room and Susanne’s respect for the work of Hargrove, ‘Royalty For Real’ echoes the gentle, intriguing jazz magic that the trumpet player often created. Hear it at its best on the new take on the standard ‘The Nearness Of You’ – a tune which Hargrove regularly featured in his shows. The equally soothing ‘Rue Lepic’ is another nod to the Hargrove sound; it’s a sweet, relaxing spin on his classic ‘Strasbourg Saint-Denis’ while the album opener ‘Roy Allan’ is a straight cover of a 2009 Hargrove tune… Roy Allan was his father. It’s an intricate tune, delivered with commitment. Equally complex is ‘Bel Air Bop’ which Ms Alt conceived as an ode to the late-night North Sea Jazz Festival jams she and Roy shared in The Hague’s Bel Air Hotel. Joyful – yes – but poignant too. We’re guessing that Roy would be delighted with the track; indeed the whole album… it’s soulful jazz at its best.
‘Royalty For Real’ is set to release on February 16th on Alt’s own label, Venus Tunes.