Straight-ahead steam and a bit of hot guitar smoke here and there make this energetic album a cool standout. Kudos to trumpeter/composer Kevin Hackler for producing such a professionally intrinsic project. Absalon embodies the essence of traditional jazz in a jazz purist’s perfect way, I’m sure. Not being such a purist does not preclude this reviewer from noticing, marveling at, and enjoying this fine, delicate, crystal-like "lifeform" accentuated by Hackler’s splendid trumpet.
The tunes here are definitely produced with care and attention to the finest of details. There is precision, touch, excellent phrasing, melody, and presence. Of particular note to me were the mesmerizing melodies of tracks 2 ("Venerativeness") and 3 ("Purdy, Much Done"). So well done were these (as well as others here) that adding this to my album collection comes very naturally. All blends well from the satiny trumpet runs to the mellow yet strong and marvelously commanding guitar work. There’s also a most competent vibraphonist who adds great color to this endeavor. My bet is that this project was one taken very seriously from the beginning, and it clearly shows.
Hackler could have fooled many, as this certainly has all the markings of one who has an abundance of albums to his credit. Nonetheless, I’m sure that this debut will be followed by many. Smoky, resonant, clear, joyful, and full of charm, Absalon is one of those albums that won’t just serve as background music during conversation. Rather, it can easily be seen as the subject of conversation.