Meadow: Blissful Ignorance (2010)
Meadow's third member, Norwegian drummer Thomas Stronen, is no less capable of the kind of flexible time play that Remembrance's legendary Jon Christensen, has been, since essentially setting the ground rules for the approach in the 1970s on classic ECM recordings like guitarist/pianist Ralph Towner's Solstice (1975) and pianist Keith Jarrett's Belonging (1974). But unlike Christensen, whose recent physical problems have largely precluded him from greater physical strength on the kit, Strønenco-founder of another Anglo/Norwegian collective, Food, responsible for the more electro-centric Quiet Inlet (ECM, 2010)is just as capable of assertive time as he is textural nuance, lending Blissful Ignorance a quiet sense of power, especially on tracks like Brunborg's irregularly metered title trackwhich, as pliant as it is, could easily fit, reworked as a grooving piece of funk, on one of the saxophonist's other 2010 ECM dates, French drummer Manu Katche's Third Round.
If the legendary German label keeps coming up, it's becausein addition to Blissful Ignorance being recorded by one of the label's longtime technical associates, engineer Jan Erik Kongshaug, at Rainbow Studio in Oslo, where so many ECM recordings have been madeall three of its members have been associated with it at one time or another, including Taylor, who dates back to the 1970s and his tremendous Azimuth trio, with trumpeter Kenny Wheeler and singer Norma Winstone. Meadow's combination of Brunborg's lyrical writing (six of Blissful's nine tracks are his) and playing, Taylor's vernacular (not strictly of the jazz tradition, but certainly speaking of it with great respect), and Strønen's ability to suggest time, even when he's not actually playing it, make Meadow the quintessential ECM group that isn't on ECM, with its predilection for timbral clarity and empathic interaction as reliant on what's not played as on what is.
Less inherent classicism than Bjørnstad's Remembrance makes Blissful Ignorance an easier fit in the jazz continuum, but both recordings share an economy and selflessness that are refreshingly distanced from those who feel it necessary to assert their personalities through overt virtuosity. Instead, the success of Meadow and Blissful Ignorance is predicated in its focus on the song, the sound, the melody and the collective.
Track Listing: Badger; Blissful Ignorance; Kirstis tårer; Tunn is; Meadow; Amentia; Will; Reven; Ritual.
Personnel: John Taylor: piano; Tore Brunborg: saxophones; Thomas Strønen: drums.
Record Label: Edition Records
Style: Modern Jazz