Danish guitarist-composer Simon Hoirup recorded his first rock album in 1977. In the 1980s he joined Sidewalk, a pop-rock band that spent some time backing Dr. John. After spending time as a session musician Hoirup formed, along with bassist Ole Sveigaard, the Simon Hoirup Band in 1999. The group has released two albums. L.A. Instrumentals is Hoirup’s first all-instrumental recording.
On this recording Hoirup is accompanied by drum superstar Ricky Lawson (work with Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Steely Dan and others), bassist Roberto Vally (work with Paul Brown, Boney James, Boz Scaggs, Arturo Sandoval and others), keyboardist Kim Hanson and on two cuts saxophonist Samuel Hejslet. Together the five fashion 10 Hoirup originals into some pretty sensitive and nice music. While the tunes are closer to rock than jazz, even though there is no "rocking out," the overall effect leaves you with a smile due to their pleasing and laid-back nature. No one is out to try and overshadow anyone else; they work together as a unit so well you’d never know they hadn’t worked together in the past if you didn’t read the liner notes.
All of the music is basically mid-tempo, with not a lot of variety of style. Interestingly enough that doesn’t really matter. Hoirup’s melodic writing is exceptional and because the songs clock in around four minutes each you’re never bored. His phrases, while mostly devoid of hooks, are well-crafted and solidly constructed. The light shuffle "Happy and Groovy" opens the disc and sets the tone. A careful little jaunt, Hoirup’s solo is very much like the rest of his solos; emphasis on single line scalular in-the-key solos that sometimes take short dips into tonally mode-ish constructs.
"Song Of Life," an up-tempo departure, is happy to the max. The simple 1950s pop-rock harmonic structure is over-layed by a melody that has more in common with the 70s. Hejslet’s doubling of the melodic line brings in a welcome additional instrumental sound. His bluesy tone is full and mixes well with Hoirup. As the tune progresses Lawson lets it open up and we see why everyone wants to work with him; his feel and groove is just too perfect. This piece is like the best banana-split you’ve ever had; just enough whip-cream and nuts for spice, you just don’t want it to end.
The bluesy "Pure Matter" includes some great organ work by Hanson. It’s obvious he’s a fan of Charles "Mighty Burner" Earland. Hoirup’s solo is a study in how the best solos make a statement. He doesn’t do too much, he just inflects the right feel and lets space have just as important a role in the solo’s construction as the notes themselves.
Though there is nothing striking about this recording, you’ll find yourself strangely drawn to listening to it over and over. The charm is in the restraint and respect these musicians give to not only the music, but also to backing up as superbly as they can a guitarist who deserves some attention.