This mob, perhaps as a kind of homage to "the mob," takes no prisoners. It deals in a brand of fusion in which the immediacy of the moment is of paramount importance and the niceties and established intensities of the medium smack too much of politeness and a lack of engagement with the urgency of being alive. This set, caught live at the Molde International Jazz Festival in July 2006, proclaims it all from the rooftops.
From the opening "Pathfinder," it's clear this is a band that came to play. The line itself is reminiscent of something Joe Henderson might have penned and Gisle Johansen's coruscating tenor sax recalls that master, leavened perhaps by a measure of Frank Lowe at his most considered. The tempo is up to the extent that the music gets rhetorical, and what follows doesn't renege on the commitment shown.
It might have been balmy on that July evening, but this isn't a band to let climatic conditions temper its commitment. The tempo is well up again on "Flashback," but this time there's subtlety and variation in the form of Anders Aarum's acoustic piano outing, where surface urbanity masks the depth of invention and slightly ragged background horn figures serve the purpose they've always done in tension-and-release terms.
The spirit of prime Soft Machine is evoked on the random joys of "Crossbreed," where closely defined group interplay is evoked through random bursts of sound and horn chorals. When the music does meld into more coherence it loses none of its edge, but rather trades one edge for another. The immediately following "Segments of Bird" is positively stately, even when that progression is underscored by an intensity suggesting that, as far as these guys are concerned, the notion of lighting the blue touch paper and standing well back just isn't on.
The closing "Just Like That" is bright, sassy and ruminative, a combination which on paper seems unlikely. Aarum's wired keyboard solo emerges from the blend like something with an agenda of its own, only to be broken down by Per Zanussi's bass feature. When overdrive is universally agreed upon the outcome is controlled hysteria of an order which might just be perfect for a northern summer night. The appreciative audience on the night certainly thought it was.
Personnel: Kare Nymark: trumpet; Jon Klette: alto sax, electronics; Gisle Johansen: tenor sax; Anders Aarum: keyboards; Per Zanussi: bass; Andreas Bye: drums.