This is a trio of like-minded, fearless musicians who like their music hot, steamy and climatic and would not settle for less than that. The Scandinavian rhythm section of prolific Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love
, member of the power trio The Thing
and Swedish double bassist Johan Berthling
, member of the like-minded trio Fire! (both feature Swedish sax titan Mats Gustafsson
), collaborated before in the trio of Swedish pianist Sten Sandell
Now these two Vikings team for a new trio with Japanese samurai sax player Akira Sakata
, one of influential figures of the Japanese free jazz scene since the seventies, a close collaborator of another sax titan Peter Brötzmann and guitarist and sound sculptor Jim O'Rourke
, who collaborated live before with The Thing and recorded with Nilssen- Love (The Cliff of Time
, PNL, 2014).
The trio debut album was recorded in Stockholm on July 2013. Its energetic spirit was captured beautifully by saxophonist Jonas Kullhammar
, who mixed and mastered the album. It begins with a climatic storm, literally, as the title piece means storm in Japanese. A muscular, fast and highly intense onslaught of all three with no second to hesitate or rest, always on the verge of losing control over this explosive sonic eruption, with Nilssen-Love in top form charging this uncompromising typhoon with dense, polyrhythmic pulse. But this trio is more versatile as the three demonstrate on the following "Ondo No Huna-Uta (Rower' Song of Ondo}." Sakata recites this song in a hoarse voice and possessed manner, it alternates between deep, melancholic pathos and a comic side, mumbling stream-of-thought gibberish, both sound as an organic extension of the other, while Berthling and Nilssen-Love embrace his manic performances in irreverent, ceremonial rhythms.
"Dora" offers another side of this trio, a fiery free jazz attack rooted in the rich legacy of this genre. Sakata leads with a charismatic solo, developing the theme with an impressive command and focused articulation, enjoying the high-octane rhythm section that keeps pushing his sax flights to higher and higher sonic terrains. The trio conclude with a touching elegy to the Japanese town Fukushima that suffered a nuclear disaster in 2011. Sakata leads again with a warm and soulful clarinet solo. Berthling and Nilssen-Love patiently intensify the contemplative spirit of this piece with spare, imaginative playing until the three unite again for a stormy, ceremonial coda with Sakata chanting a farewell.
This trio plans a Japanese tour this fall, hopefully, will yield more releases by these brilliant and powerful musicians.
Arashi (Storm); Ondo No Huna-Uta (Rower's Song of Ondo); Dora;
No Ima (Fukushima Now).
Akira Sakata: alto saxophone, clarinet, voice; Johan Bertling: double
bass; Paal-Nilssen-Love: drums, percussion.