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The influence of world music has been somewhat rare in Danish jazz, with the notable exception of Pierre Dørge's New Jungle Orchestra, which for several years has incorporated Asian music and African folklore into their particular bouncing brand of avant-garde wilderness. The arrival of Girls in Airports signals an altogether different approach to merging different sounds from around the world, an approach that is decidedly influenced by the new Danish melancholy practiced by the likes of guitarist Jakob Bro
While the cover to the group's eponymous debut shows a fertile African landscape, with wild animals hiding among musical instruments, there's also, paradoxically, a Danish cottage placed nearby, and in the background a city seems to emerge. This, on the surface, rather confusing assemblage becomes an apt metaphor for the group's music that manages to be at once urban and ancient, national and transnational, modern and traditional.
The line-up of two horns, keys and drums ensures a free flowing form that can be both dynamic and forceful without being locked too tight in a groove. "Myanmar" finds alto saxophonist Lars Greve and tenor player Martin Stender in an oriental dance, blowing like fiery snake charmers to the Afrobeat rhythms of Mads Forsby, while "30.000" is a tune reminiscent of Pharoah Sanders
The greatest strength of the album, however, is the tranquil, polyphonic lyricism of tunes like "Ferry For Sale" and "Moving In." Here Greve's and Stender's intricately woven lines sound like an updated version of the partnership between Lee Konitz
, while Matthias Holm's bubbling Rhodes and crystalline fill-ins add to the sophisticated touch.
Considering the young age of the band and the fact that this is its debut, the achievement of Girls in Airports becomes all the more remarkable. This is an album that can not only be rated among some of the finest new releases in Danish jazz, it is also a work that introduces a whole new sound, where mellow Nordic lyricism is combined with sounds from Africa and the East. Here tribal drums, funky beats, dub and ambient grooves coalesce into an idiosyncratic stew, and the result is a highly enjoyable offering that is as lyrically dazzling as it is rhythmically enchanting.
Track Listing: Myanmar; Ferry For Sale; Girls in Airports; Halfway There; Moving In; Half An Hour In The Shower; Widow Bird; Plants and Trees; 30.000; New Year's Eve At The Hospice; Ticket To Nowhere.
Personnel: Martin Stender: tenor saxophone; Lars Greve: alto saxophone; Mathias Holm: keyboards and piano; Mads Forsby: drums.