Basement Music, the title of bassist Viktor Skokic's premiere as a band leader, refers not to the social isolation of the 2020 global pandemic, but to the sites of his compositional efforts. Written in his basement, and recorded prior to the lockdown, the music is actually the converse of social distancing'converse' as in conversation. His 'Sextett' navigates some precarious and complicated directions, such as the album's opener "Tre." Constructed as a puzzle with odd-shaped pieces, the music favors sharp turns, reversals and a full stop. Once listeners realize this is thoroughly composed music, they can relax and enjoy its intricacies.
The realization of Skokic's music is accomplished by a cast of talented Swedish musicians in dialogue. Pianist Rasmus Borg and trumpeter Emil Strandberg (Umlaut Big Band, Paal Nilssen-Love) act as the composer's organizing principles. Borg, often in a chamber music mode, builds the scaffolding of pieces such as "Två" and "Island Music." The latter composition opens with piano and bass before growing via trumpet and saxophone. The clarity of Strandberg's trumpet pierces through the complexity of the music, allowing the various reeds of Thomas Backman and Alberto Pinton to soar. Pinton's clarinet on "Island Music" and baritone saxophone on "Utgångsostinato" are highlights here. Skokic loves to pulse his music like raindrops falling on the roof. "Ett Två Tre" (one two three) follows the shower with a shimmering pacific interlude before the precipitation returns. The music may have been conceived in a basement but it shouts from the rooftops.
TRE; TVÅ; ETT TVÅ TRE; HOPPLA; UTGÅNGSOSTINATO; ISLAND MUSIC; JAZZ
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