Prolific Norwegian reed player Håkon Kornstad is known for his conceptual and genre-bending work, beginning with the free improvising Kornstad Trio, experimenting with electronics on Wibutee, exploring chamber Jazz with fellow countryman, pianist Håvard Wiik and bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, or collaborating with hip vocalist Anja Garbarek. On his second solo release he follows but still diverts from Single Engine (Jazzland Recordings, 2007). Whereas the latter focused on a variety of musical gestures and a wide spectrum of emotions and colors, this time Kornstad "simply wanted to get into one mood, dwell on it." This recording was culled from two nights spent at the Sofienberg church in Oslo in January 2009, known for its excellent acoustics, faithfully captured by master sound engineer Jan Erik Kongshaug.
The solo setting enables Kornstad to present his excellent performance technique, but most of all his emotional intelligence and his willingness to experiment. Kornstad develops and builds the eight pieces here like a master architect, adding loops and using electronics to thicken the musical envelopegently and patiently composing beautiful, melodic themes as if they weren't totally improvised. All, while still dwelling on different moods, featuring Kornstad's deep and wide expressive musical articulation.
He begins with the reflective and meditative "Still One," stressing his solo tenor sax playing. On "Oslo" he uses the bass sax clucks as a rhythmic pulse and, with real-time multi-tracked tenor sax, develops a song-like charming and cool melody. "Mongrel" and "Wipeout" are short meditative exercise in breathing techniques that masterfully use the acoustics of the church, in a way that brings to mind flautist Paul Horn's pioneering sonic explorations Inside the Taj Mahal (Epic, 1969) and Inside the Great Pyramid (Kuckuck, 1977).
On "Noir," and even more on "En Attendant Le Soleil," Kornstad manages to feature a harmonic and nuanced resonating choir of reed instruments, adding the flute and the flutonette (a flute with clarinet mouth-piece). "Klaff" demonstrates how Kornstad uses the saxophone pad cups as a percussive means. The concluding "Streamer" suite summarizes all the sonic strategies that Kornstad uses throughout the recording. It is a slow, meditative piece, with a clear melodic thread that repeats itself and lingers on in the mind well after the piece has ended.
Masterfully conceived and beautifully executed. A magical gem.
Personnel: Håkon Kornstad: tenor and bass saxophone, flute, flutonette, live electronics.