Mats Eilertsen: Flux (2006)
Bassist Mats Eilertsen is in high demand as a sideman, and a member of quite a few longstanding groups. As a leader and composer, Eilertsen put out the very interesting and atmospheric Turanga (AIM Records, 2005). The outstanding Flux brings together the same players, but in an entirely different style.
What is immediately apparent in the music is the group camaraderie that brings a sense of effortlessness to its members' interplay. The result is a sense of joy, spontaneity and fun that is infectious while maintaining a definite serious side, feeding the mind as well as the body. Many of the pieces feel loosely composed, with a main theme on which the group improvises. Many times they play all together, but each is listening and reacting to create a specific sound.
Cellist Ernst Reijseger might not be widely known, but he has a discography going back to 1972 and embodies a "no boundaries" attitude. Reedman Frederik Ljungkvist is the other half of the front line, and complements Reijseger in attitude, working extremely closely with him, and sounding both independent and responsive simultaneously.
Thomas Strønen, while listed as playing drums and bells, is closer to a percussionist. A longstanding partner of Eilertsen's, his unique style creates a cloud of sound that envelopes the rest of the players while providing a pulse, albeit a complicated one, when needed.
Beneath all of this is Eilertsen, a powerful bassist who can provide a driving vamp or melodic counterpoint. While he is nominally the leader of this group, at least in the compositional sense, the sound he wants is that of the collective, even when he comes to the front.
Flux is a very good example of modern jazz that combines a sense of freedom, which, while seeming to border on chaos at times, has an underlying intelligence that creates a logical framework. This framework helps the listener make sense of the proceedings and get inside the music, hear its layers and be in the moment with the musicians. That a number of tracks also have killer grooves does not hurt either.
"No Fuzz for Buzz" starts things off with the group dynamic on full display, as Strønen's bells make the sound particularly interesting. The title track is five minutes of pure joy; a very cool, hypnotic vamp on the bass provides the anchor for cello and sax solos and interactions, as Strønen's imaginative brushes play around everyone. "Passaggio Nach dem Regen," written by Reijseger is all atmosphere, with bass harmonics and cello double stops supporting a gorgeous but simple sax line that keeps turning back on itself as it recedes into the mist.
Repeated listens to Flux will continue to expose new layers as this collaborative group creates intriguing music with staying power.
Track Listing: No Fuzz for Buzz; 4D; Olivier; Lunar; Flux; Gruff; Duo; Revolver; Dodeka; Dias; Passaggio Nach dem Regen; In Orbit.
Personnel: Ernst Reijseger: cello; Fredrik Ljungkvist: saxophone, clarinet; Thomas Stronen: drums, bells; Mats Eilertsen: bass.