Nordic Connect: Flurry (2007)
Flurry is the debut by Nordic Connect, a collaboration between two Canadian-born sisters of Danish descenttrumpeter Ingrid Jensen and saxophonist Christineand Swedish pianist Maggi Olin, whom Ingrid met some years back while studying at Boston's Berklee College of Music. Drummer Jon WikanIngrid's husband and, while Alaskan-born, also possessing Scandinavian lineageand Swedish bassist Mattias Welin flesh out the quintet for a strong set of originals that explore the value of shared cultural and familial experiences.
Despite living in two different countries, the Jensens have kept close ties over the years. Residing in New York, Ingrid's visibility is on the rise through her association with composer/bandleader Maria Schneider as well as her own efforts, including the definitive At Sea (ArtistShare, 2006). Montreal-based Christine has her own equally impressive discography, including the modern mainstream-with-a-twist Look Left (Effendi, 2006). They've worked together over the years, but this is the first time they've recorded as part of a fully democratic collective, and it's a marvel to hear the subliminal simpatico that makes their intertwining lines jump off the page.
There are those who will be compelled to look for a link to the often-cited but ultimately unsupportable Nordic Cool myth of labels like ECM, but Flurry is nothing if not filled with warmth. Whether it's Ingrid's rounded tone (but sharing a Kenny Wheeler-like disposition to the occasional sudden burst into the upper register), Christine's equally appealing alto and soprano, or the compelling writing (split between Olin and the two Jensens), there's more fire than ice, even if that fire is, more often than not, a slow burn. From the elegant swing of Christine's "Sweet Adelphi to the more complex arrangement of Ingrid's "Things I Love and modal heat of Olin's "Sweet Dream, which features a vivid post-Coltrane alto solo that's Christine's best of the set, followed by an equally potent trumpet solo, this is music that touches the head and heart.
The largely acoustic complexion of Nordic Connect is broken up a bit by Olin's Fender Rhodes and Ingrid's occasional and subtle use of electronics, including a touch of delay during her solo on "Things I Love and some subtle filtering on Christine's more energetic "Cowboy. "Olin's Rhodes work on "Cowboy straddles the line between abstraction and clearer definition, with the always well-matched Wikan and Welin especially in-the-pocket.
The recording of Flurry grew out of a 2005 Canadian tour, but the group has already hit the road again for a Swedish tour in the winter of 2007, which suggests that it won't be a one-time affair. Olin and the Jensen sisters may be strong leaders on their own, but there's no question that together, Nordic Connect has something special that's well worth continuance.
Track Listing: Flurry; Sweet Adelphi; Things I Love; Sweet Dream; Garden Hour; Seascape; Seafever; Cowboy; Breathe/Quadr.
Personnel: Ingrid Jensen: trumpet, flugelhorn, effects; Christine Jensen: alto and soprano saxophones; Maggi Olin: piano, Fender Rhodes; Jon Wikan: drums, cajon, percussion; Mattias Welin: bass.