Featuring finely crafted compositions and precise, yet stirring performances, Countryside is an ambitious and lovely followup to Frøy Aagre Offbeat's debut album, 2004's Katalyze. The album sports varying moods, veering from stately elegance to moments of more delicate humor and whimsy.
Composed and arranged by the saxophonist/leader, each track has obviously been worked over with care. While the longest song clocks in at just five minutes, each work features a palpable sense of movement and development. Featuring groaning cello playing by Kari Ravnan (who adds richness to three of the nine tracks) and sparkling piano work by Andreas Ulvo, "Sold Gold spins and builds from languid solos into a grand restatement of the main theme in an admirably compact arrangement. Likewise, "Last Waltz progresses from a quirky, high-spirited trot to a suitably grand Old World waltz in a little under four and a half minutes. The title track (with fond clarinet interjections) is simply a perfectly peaceful reverie.
Countryside is dense but far from inaccessible, due to the sheer tunefulness of the writing and the pithy inventiveness of the playing. No instrumental star shines brighter than the others on the album. This unit truly functions as a band, each member playing off one other and, above all, serving the songs.
Track Listing: The Wheel; Solid Gold; Last Waltz; Rainy Afternoon; Canadian Rockies pt. 1; Canadian Rockies pt. 2; Fastball; A Nice Walk; Countryside.
Personnel: Frøy Aagre: tenor and soprano saxophones; Andreas Ulvo: piano; Audun Ellingsen: double-bass; Freddy Wike: drums; Kari Ravnan: cello (1, 2, 7); Morten Michelsen: clarinets (1, 2, 5-7, 9).
Why do I love jazz? Well, depending on what you mean by jazz, I can send an answer in any number of directions. Briefly, I was exposed to this crazy music as a little boy, my dad good friends with the local music store, where he bought sheet music to play from his baby grand
Why do I love jazz? Well, depending on what you mean by jazz, I can send an answer in any number of directions. Briefly, I was exposed to this crazy music as a little boy, my dad good friends with the local music store, where he bought sheet music to play from his baby grand. Their massive record collection, my parents taking me to concerts and clubs (only one of five kids to do so), the Magnavox furniture stereo/radio ... it all added up. It was complex, emotional music. And it had rhythm! I drummed and followed the music through the '60s even as I enjoyed the new musics of my generation.
Along with side-trips to other musicians and music, it's been one hell of a pony ride ever since.