Multi reed player/composer/vocalist Pernille Bévort 's last outing as leader was in 2007, on the impressive Playground 1 (Calibrated), with pianist Marie Louise Schmidt. Bevort, however, hasn't been idle, participating in several big band recordings and performing in a variety of contexts, from her own smaller ensembles to a veritable slew of big bands, including the Danish Radio Big Band with bassist Richard Bona
. The double CD Perfect Organization pitches Bévort with the equally versatile bandoneon player, Marcelo Nisinman in a vibrant exploration of tango nuevo and jazz, which impresses as much for its subtle layers as for the soaring improvisations.
Bévort has featured on tango-inspired recordings before, with bandoneon great Dino Saluzzi
Dream Quintet, and with Nisinman on Beijborn/Kroner Big Band's Tango for Bad People (Sweet Silence Records, 2004). Her affinity for tango and empathetic understanding with Nisinman results in music which flows effortlessly, though never predictably. The bulk of the first CD offers arrangements of Bévort's vocal numbers, whereas CD two is mostly instrumental, featuring a mixture of studio and live performances. With the studio tracks recorded in just a couple of days, there's a uniformly spontaneous feel to both discs, and the playing is impassioned throughout.
There's an unpretentious simplicity to Bévort's lyrics, though the charm in these simply spun narratives lies in the allure of her tone and unfailingly strong delivery. "Tango for Kroner" smolders like a poem set to tango, with Bévort's vocals moody and beguiling, and Peter Hansen
's bass adds a noirish air, something almost inevitable with tango. Nevertheless, cinematic though the music often is, it is entirely devoid of clichés. There's a reggaeish vibe to "Mashed Potatoes," and Nisinman's bandoneon evokes the first rays of morning sun on the lovely "I'm Still Waiting," where the blend of Bévort's wordless vocal, bandoneon and tenor saxophone over drummer Anders Holm
's skittering brushes makes a beautiful group statement. "I Take the Consequences" and the wonderful instrumental "Minor Clues" showcase Bévort's notable arranging skills, with flute, saxophone and bandoneon creating a rich tapestry of sound.
The second CD is a spectacular affair. The playful circus intro/outro of "Argentinos A Europa"one of three Nisinman tunessandwich intense, swirling bandoneon and clarinet solos. The start-stop rhythms of "Fairytales" are in contrast to the beautifully conceived unison lines and counterpoint of saxophone, bass clarinet and bandoneon. The bandoneon's unique harmonics shine on the episodic "Replication," with Nisinman's sound big and evocative. Bouncing bass and subtle percussion take the tune in an entirely new direction, leading Nisinman and then Bévort into lyrical, melodious territory. Whether on soprano, alto or tenor, Bévort is technically assured and always soulful.
Bévort's wordless vocals intertwine with saxophone and clarinet on the slowly waltzing "Pernille 1." On another slow number, "Echoes of Red," Hansen's brushes sound like static electricity, while Bévort's tenor ruminates over dream-like waves of bandoneon. It's a highly atmospheric piece which conjures tenorist Ben Webster
playing for himself in a Buenos Aires rainstorm. Several miniatures provide pause and collective breathing space. "Sejerø by Night" is a mood piece, with bass clarinet leading a short exercise in harmonics. The bandoneon solo number "What is Perfect?," and the spoken word "Perfect Organization" pitching bandoneon and Bevort's Danish story telling, are curios, but arresting ones at that.
Three numbers were recorded live as a septet, with flautist Mariane Bitran and reed players Kasper Wagner and Florian Navarro adding breadth and depth to the arrangements. These tunes are embedded snuggly with the other numbers, which speaks volumes for the energy and spontaneity of the studio takes. There's a wonderful groove to the upbeat "On the Beam" which layers reeds, flute and bandoneon with imagination, and features a cracking drum feature at the tail of the song. "Time for Changes" and "Tango for Kroner" prove that Bévort's vocal numbers translate well on stage. Her singing on the latter has a Bjork-like dreaminess which finds perfect accompaniment in an almost subliminal rhythm and Nisinman's somewhat ghostly bandoneon.
One of the CD's most atmospheric pieces, Nisinman's "Kill Yourself Step by Step And Be Free," begins with stuttering rhythms, percussive and vocal improvisations and free noises like an orchestra warming up. Out of this jittery intro, a beautiful baroque bass line emerges, over which Bévort takes a delightfully lyrical soprano solo, supported by Nisinman's ever-sympathetic, bass-like accompaniment. The disc concludes with another miniature, "Interlude 3," which has a sci-fi abstraction. It's an odd ending, but then again, nothing about Perfect Organization fits easily into any mold.
Bévort and Nisinman's accomplishment is to merge tango and jazz in passionate embrace to the point where the seam fails to show. On Perfect Organization it sounds as if the two idioms were always meant for each other. What is perfect? Arguably nothing, but this is as close as it gets.
Tracks: CD1: Time for Changes; Tango for Kroner ver 2; Secret Agent; Mashed Potatoes; I'm Still Waiting; I Take the Consequences; I'm Packing My Suitcase; Minor Clues; You Don't Know What Love Is. CD2: Argentinos A Europa; Fairytales; Replication; Pernille 1; Echoes of Red; On The Beam; Tango for Kroner; Sejerø by Night; Time for Changes; What is Perfect?; Perfect Organization: Kill Yourself Step by Step and be Free; Interlude 3.