The self-titled debut of the Danish quartet Spring reflects its label/musicians' collective credo: the platform for a young generation of Danish jazz musicians to present their personal statements and opinionated perspectives about the state of jazz today. And though Spring states that its compositions are inspired by free jazz, you can find in this fine recording the lyricism that is so identified with the Nordic jazz of the ECM school, but also refreshing doses of irony.
Spring are classically trained saxophonist Torben Snekkestadmember of Norwegian saxophonist Trygve Seim's orchestra, Norwegian pianist Helge Lien's Tri 'O Trang, and the Copenhagen Saxophone Quartet, one of Denmark's most prominent chamber music ensemblessaxophonist/clarinetist Anders Bankeone of the founders of the ILK label and member of other Danish jazz outfits including Mold and Radarbassist Jonas Westergaardwho has collaborated with noted saxophonists John Tchicai, Oliver Lake and Michael Blakeand drummer Peter Bruunanother member of Mold and Radar, as well as the Danish-American quartet Buffalo Age.
All members of Spring are credited for the eight compositions recorded in March, 2006, a year after the quartet began working together. The compositions are based around the close interplay between Snekkestad and Banke. "Pley" features a subdued and lyrical duel between the two, while "Dithers for Schwitters," unlike its title, is far from a homage to the Dada poet Kurt Schwitters; instead, it's a spare and contemplative piece focusing on a chamber ambience and the warm timbres of soprano sax and clarinet. Only from "Spiff" onwards does Spring approach free jazz territory, enabling Westergaard and Bruun to emphasize their driving rhythms.
One of the most beautiful pieces here is "Noodles or Icecream, Sir?," alternating between Snekkestad and Banke's almost ethereal unison lineswhich briefly quote Thelonious Monk's "Ask Me Now"and the evocative bass of Westergaard. The longest track on this relatively short release is "Superyatzy," which begins as hesitant improvisation featuring a short Westergaard solo, evolves into a spare solo from Bruun, followed by Banke on clarinet and Snekkestad, who continue their kind of fragmented conversation. The track culminates in a united collective improvisation that fully demonstrates the power of this quartet.
Personnel: Torben Snekkestad: tenor and soprano saxophones; Anders Banke: tenor saxophone and clarinets; Jonas Westergaard: bass; Peter Bruun: drums.