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Johan Moir Ensemble: Chasing Shadows

Eyal Hareuveni By

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The five musicians of Swedish Johan Moir ensemble met at the Academy of Music and Drama of Göteborg. Moir is the bassist, the composer and the director of HearHere Records. His ensemble debut album features his partner, vocalist Casey Moir, who also plays with him in the group Svelia and the duo Mother Jack; saxophonist Malin Wättring, who released last year her highly impressive debut album with her quartet and octet (Glöd, Havtorn, 2015) and plays in saxophonist Anna Högberg Attack!; pianist Naoko Sakata, who leads her own trio and plays in Wättring groups, and drummer Carl-Johan Groth.

The ensemble experiments with the seminal sound of many ECM releases of European artists, especially Scandinavian ones, but avoids the lyrical, impressionistic tone of the ECM school. Moir melodic, well-crafted compositions embrace the vocals of Casey Moir and suggest nuanced, cinematic narratives. Casey Moir wordless acrobatics and urgent delivery intensify the dramatic elements of compositions as "Like a Film/One Year Of Waiting" and "Scaleo" and her delivery stresses its fragile emotional core. In these songs Wättring and Sakata color these compositions with clever, improvised ideas.

The most impressive pieces are the ballads. On the touching "Layers" Casey Moir sings in an untypical reserved voice, using it as an added color to the beautiful soprano sax solo of Wättring and Sakata abstraction of the melody. The song "Grief" begins as a ballad but adopts later another approach that opens the interplay to some intense improvisation. The last song, "Wings Of Gold/Emptiness" builds carefully its dramatic progression until the cathartic, emotional climax.

Highly recommended.

Track Listing: Like a Film/One Year Of Waiting; Scaleo; 31st Floor; Crashing; Layers; Grief; Majoren; Wings Of Gold/Emptiness.

Personnel: Malin Wättring: saxophones; Casey Moir: vocals; Naoko Sakata: piano; Johan Moir: double Bass; Carl-Johan Groth: drums.

Title: Chasing Shadows | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Hearhere Records

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