Danish composer/guitarist Torben Waldorff and his quartet perform on Wednesday, June 27 at the Rochester Jazz Festival

Virtuosic playing and superlative compositions have earned Danish guitarist/composer Torben Waldorff a place on the list of today’s top jazz guitarists. On Wednesday, June 27 he brings his complex and exciting music to the Rochester Jazz Festival, Nordic & Euro Jazz Now Stage, Lutheran Church of the Reformation, 111 N. Chestnut St., Rochester. Joining Waldorff will be pianist Jon Cowherd, bassist Drew Gress, and drummer Jon Wikan.

Performances at 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Tickets $30.

Born in Denmark, Waldorff moved to the US in 1984 to attend Boston’s Berklee College of Music. There, he studied with Herb Pomeroy and Charlie Banacos, gigged in the Boston club scene with Sam Newsome and Jim Black, and befriended Ingrid Jensen and Donny McCaslin. After Boston, Waldorff moved to Copenhagen and then Malmo, Sweden, releasing two CDs for the Swedish label LJ-Records. During a US tour promoting his albums, he befriended Maria Schneider. She, along with Jensen, encouraged Waldorff to move his musical endeavors to ArtistShare, the pioneering, crowd-funded, multi-Grammy winning label.

The transition established Waldorff as an international artist. His first ArtistShare release, the 2006 Brilliance, was recorded live at NYC’s 55 Bar and featured Donny McCaslin, Matt Clohesy and Jon Wikan. It revealed Waldorff’s talent for assembling a stellar band to present his own songs. As the Village Voice put it, “Waldorff’s interactions with the rhythm section and particularly saxophonist Donny McCaslin twist apart any and all orthodoxies.”

In 2008 the band went on to record Afterburn which added Sam Yahel on keys. The album solidified Waldorff’s position as an ace songwriter and showed off his almost telepathic rapport with McCaslin. It made several international best-of-the-year lists. Critic Doug Ramsey wrote, “expansive jazz of the kind that thrives in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn and is spreading around the world. "Waldorff, McCaslin, and Yahel are leaders among the articulate standard bearers of the movement.” American Rock Beauty followed in 2010, with Jon Cowherd added to the lineup. JazzTimes wrote, “American Rock Beauty has earfeel as a fine Burbundy has mouthfeel.”

Waldorff’s most recent recording, the 2017 Holiday on Fire, marks his 10th year and 5th CD with ArtistShare. Recorded after a tumultuous and celebrated gig at Smalls Jazz Club in NYC, it features Ingrid Jenson on trumpet, Johnathan Blake on drums, Drew Gress on bass, and Maggi Olin on piano. The album received accolades including a four star review in DownBeat and an All About Jazz review which raved “one—he rips like a rock star; and two—the band he has put together has a sharply distinctive, modern, maybe even futuristic sound.”
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