SE-Quartet: Tears In The Rain (2012)
This album showcases the talents of two young, talented, Scandinavian jazzmen: Danish pianist Rasmus H. Thomsen and Swedish saxophonist David Ehrlin. It is flawed by lack of direction, occasional pretension, and the inclusion of strings on four numbers, but hints very strongly at greater things to come from both players.
Tears In The Rain is more modern mood music than jazz. The exception is the most successful number, "Safe In Your Hands." Composed by Thomsen, it is funky and up-tempo, and features an interesting, angular chord progression reminiscent of John Coltrane's "Giant Steps." There is some excellent ensemble and solo work by both Thomsen and Ehrlin. Other songs on the album lack identity and tend to blur into one another.
Rain, a prominent feature of the Scandinavian climate, inspired two of the selections: the gently evocative title track, another Thomsen original with fine lyrical work by Ehrlin; and drummer Antti Ojala's "Evening Rain," on which Ehrlin switches to bass clarinet. The tune is a melancholy Nordic take on "Pennies From Heaven," celebrating what the composer describes as "the peacefulness you can experience on a quiet summer evening, when you listen to the rain."
Stranger still as a source of musical inspiration: toothache. Thomsen wrote "Tand" (which means "tooth") to commemorate one of his daughter's visits to the dentist. All goes well until the sugary strings strike a nerve. "Stardust" has nothing to do with Hoagy Carmichael. Rather, it is a rambling, somewhat raucous celebration of the cosmos by Thomsen that includes some nicely understated bass by Patrik Hanson.
Then there is "Somebody's Waiting," which explores that familiar Nordic phenomenon, angst (perhaps caused by all the rain). This one was written by Ehrlin, who explains, "Sometimes I do things that I'm not proud of. Sometimes I hurt somebody close to me. It can feel that I'm not worthy of love. Even so I can be forgiven and I can be loved. Somebody is waiting for me, in spite of everything." This indicates that there's hope for the future, once the lads have sorted themselves out.
Track Listing: Prelude; Renewal; Daylight; Tears in the Rain; Somewhere in Between; Somebody's Waiting; Tand; Safe in Your Hands; Evening Rain; Stardust.
Personnel: David Ehrlin: reeds; Rasmus H Thomsen: piano; Patrik Hanson: bass; Antti Ojala: drums; Johanna Karlsson: violin; Anna Andersson Vass: violin and viola; Emma Karp: cello.
Record Label: Prophone Records