Kevin Brow: Koptor (2008)
Koptor is the debut recording of Canadian-born, Copenhagen-based drummer Kevin Brow. Accompanied by a group of like-minded peers, including multi-reedist Rob Mosher, pianist Jacob Sacks and ubiquitous bassist Eivind Opsvik, Brow leads his quartet through a program of modern jazz originals that ripple with emotion.
Brow's nuanced writing expands in scope beyond conventional time signatures and traditional harmonies to embrace inside/outside sonorities and popular music conventions. His unadorned melodies, direct harmonies and fluctuating rhythms draw similarities to the populist writing of fellow band mates Eivind Opsvik and Jacob Sacks. Eschewing edgy post-modern aesthetics, these pieces explore a variety of subtle angles with an easygoing demeanor that avoids extremes in dynamics and genre in favor of a nuanced, highly focused approach.
The album's dozen tunes drift effortlessly from one to another, unfolding like an extended suite. Unified by an overriding melodic sensibility, the compositions veer from spry post bop ("Maske I Overmorgen" and "Outer Spokes Center Hole") and expansive tone poems ("How Does Water Flow" and "Jeg Gjorde Det I Forgars") to pointillist balladry ("Imaginary Lines"). Understated does not preclude passion however. "Underground" reveals a visceral side; the tune escalates from a bittersweet theme riding a languorous groove into a furious collective improvisation that climaxes with caterwauling frenzy.
The session culminates in the three part "New Koptor" suite, which further reinforces the album's cohesive sensibility with an excursion into subtle melodic variations and unexpected detours in tempo. Mosher's plangent horn cadences and Sacks' spare piano flourishes glide over Opsvik's resonant bass pulses as the leader unveils an array of percolating rhythms informed by simmering funk accents and soulful rock backbeats.
An impressive debut from an up and coming artist, Koptor is deceptive in its simplicity as it reveals myriad layers during repeated listens.
Track Listing: Frograbbit; Maske I Overmorgen; How Does Water Flow; Outer Spokes Center Hole; Underground; Imaginary Lines; Black Bear; Jeg Gjorde Det I Forgars; First New Koptor; Second New Koptor; Third New Koptor; Kobs Mejkr.
Personnel: Kevin Brow: drums; Eivind Opsvik: bass; Jacob Sacks: piano; Rob Mosher: soprano saxophone, English horn.