Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

8

Atomic at Nighttown

Matt Marshall By

Sign in to view read count
Atomic
Nighttown
Cleveland Heights, OH
February 10, 2015

Fresh in the glow of its 50th anniversary celebration, kicked off by a party a few nights earlier and extending through the end of the month, Nighttown put its eclecticism fully on display February 10, presenting powerful Scandinavian free-jazz group Atomic. The Nighttown faithful are, by and large, a straight-ahead crowd (two Manhattan Transfer shows set for Friday, February 13, sold out well in advance, for example), so it's good to see the folks there are still willing to push the envelope—it is, in fact, part on the club's vitality. Atomic, in just their second visit to Cleveland—the first a 2004 go at the Beachland Ballroom—made that vitality palpable, exploding with an orchestrated chaos that the 30 or so in attendance will likely not soon forget.

Over the course of two 45-minute sets, the quintet previewed all seven tracks from its forthcoming release, Lucidity (Jazzland), due out in March, plus one additional tune, "Stuck in Stockholm." That title notwithstanding, the group seemed ever- present in Cleveland, ever-present in the moment, fleshing out original post-bop compositions with an intensity and purpose that never waned. Leader Fredrik Ljungkvist, alternating between tenor sax and clarinet, occasionally directed traffic, most notably on the first-set closer "Major" where, with waves of his hand, he led pianist Håvard Wiik in exquisitely chosen, cutting charges into a roiling torment of trumpet, bass and drums. But in the main the group was guided by the music charted on its lone metal stand—full-bodied refrains that launched jagged individual and group lines in a braying but precise—even, at times, hummable, and always musical—clatter. It often recalled the cerebral passion of Andrew Hill's music.

Credit bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten and the group's new drummer, Hans Hulbækmo, for maintaining both mayhem and cohesion; Flaten aggressively attacked the strings with full-throttled strumming, stretching and other inventive manipulations (it was good to see him afforded two extended solos during the night, as well), Hulbœkmo likewise raged through all manner of invention from sawing the edges of his cymbals with a bow to knocking the rims with metal implements and employing a scattering of handheld percussion instruments. Yet the continual sonic shocks were concomitant with an ever-propulsive—even foot-tapping—rhythm.

Wiik was, perhaps, the least heard from of the group, using the piano more as a soloing instrument than as one to supply rhythmic comfort. Hard to pin down, he blinked in and out of a terrain groomed by visionaries as diverse as Cecil Taylor and George Gershwin, completing an inviting, dot-linking composite in the process. On the front line, Ljungkvist and trumpeter Magnus Broo were equal parts forceful and lyrical, pegging the music in place with shared, occasionally siren-like, refrains, then braiding perhaps before fraying to follow individual paths of soapbox squawking, bluesy introspection and carefree sauntering.

Anchored by points of leaving and return, Atomic's music throughout the evening was a richly tangled, frenetic cord that razzled listeners with both its freedom and cohesion. No icy intellectualism this, the boys from Norway and Sweden attacked the Cleveland night with a jazz as likely to kick in your teeth as stroke your brain. "A McGuffin's Tale" of sorts, as one of their latest compositions would have it—the journey, not some mysterious objective, being the thrilling part.

Set list: First Set—"Lucidity," "Start/Stop," "A New Juncture," "Major." Second Set—"Laterna Interfuit," "A McGuffin's Tale," "December," "Stuck in Stockholm."

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
Liner Notes
CD/LP/Track Review
Extended Analysis
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Six Easy Pieces

Six Easy Pieces

Odin Records
2017

buy
Lucidity

Lucidity

Jazzland Recordings
2015

buy
Retrograde

Retrograde

Jazzland Recordings
2008

buy
Happy New Ears!

Happy New Ears!

Jazzland Recordings
2006

buy
Atomic: The Bikini Tapes

Atomic: The Bikini...

Jazzland Recordings
2005

buy
Boom Boom

Boom Boom

Jazzland Recordings
2004

buy

Related Articles

Read Jazz Migration 2018 Live Reviews
Jazz Migration 2018
by Henning Bolte
Published: December 13, 2018
Read Bessie Smith Empress of the Blues Tribute at The Cabot Live Reviews
Bessie Smith Empress of the Blues Tribute at The Cabot
by Doug Hall
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Joe Gransden's Big Band At Cafe 290 Live Reviews
Joe Gransden's Big Band At Cafe 290
by Martin McFie
Published: December 9, 2018
Read U2 at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin Live Reviews
U2 at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 9, 2018
Read David Johansen at The Space at Westbury Live Reviews
David Johansen at The Space at Westbury
by Mike Perciaccante
Published: December 9, 2018
Read Joshua Bowlus Trio at The Jazz Corner Live Reviews
Joshua Bowlus Trio at The Jazz Corner
by Martin McFie
Published: December 8, 2018
Read "Lee Konitz 90th Birthday Celebration at Regatta Bar" Live Reviews Lee Konitz 90th Birthday Celebration at Regatta Bar
by Steve Provizer
Published: February 13, 2018
Read "We Jazz Festival 2017" Live Reviews We Jazz Festival 2017
by Anthony Shaw
Published: December 16, 2017
Read "Sur Ecoute at The Bronx Bar & 'Cue" Live Reviews Sur Ecoute at The Bronx Bar & 'Cue
by Barry Witherden
Published: March 1, 2018
Read "Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids At Black Box" Live Reviews Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids At Black Box
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 5, 2018