All Included: Reincarnation of a Free Bird (2012)
The strength of this quintet is based on prior collaborations of its musicians. Prolific Swedish saxophonist Martin Kuchen towers as the obvious leader of the quintet, having collaborated with fellow Swedish trombonist Mats Äleklint in his Angels and Angels 8 bands on 2008's Every Woman is a Tree and 2012's By Way of Deception, both on Clean Feed. Norwegian trumpeter Thomas Johansson, bassist Jon Rune Strøm and drummer Tollef Østvang play together in Friends & Neighborswhose debut, No Beat Policy (Øra Fonogram, 2011), follows the same aesthetics of All Includedand in the yet-to-record The Way Ahead. Strøm and Østvang are also part of the trio Universal Indians, which just released its own debut, Nihil is Now (Stone Floor, 2012).
Küchen's profoundly political compositions are arresting, with "War in a Child" revolving around his poetic, singing sax solos. Later, Johansson and Äleklint reflect on his tormented narrative, sketched on his alto sax, with commanding solos of their own, while Strøm and Østvang build flexible rhythmic base, all within a supportive and relaxed interplay. Küchen's "Dactyloscopy" is based on urgent rhythmic pattern and enables him to employ some of his extended techniques through the restless interaction. "The Indispensable Warlords" is a painful cry, delivered by Küchen's emotionally charged playing, followed by Johansson and Äleklint.
Other compositions highlight the quintet's passionate energy. Østvang's "Airstrike" and the title composition are muscular, immediate and nervous eruptions of energy, tied loosely around a short theme where all musicians have equal voices. "Swedish Salsa" is free improvisation that patiently gains momentum and power only to dissolve and build again.
Brilliant, inspiring music.
Track Listing: Airstrike; War in a child; Swedish Salsa; Dactyloscopy; The Indispensable Warlords; Reincarnation of a Free Bird.
Personnel: Martin Küchen: saxophones; Thomas Johansson: trumpet; Mats Äleklint: trombone; Jon Rune Strøm: double bass; Tollef Østvang: drums.
Record Label: Stone Floor Records