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Lars Andreas Haug Band: Conrairo

Eyal Hareuveni By

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The new generation of Norwegian tuba players keep challenging this under-rated instrument. Two years ago it was the trio of Martin Taxt, Kristoffer Lo and Ferran Fages who investigated the timbre characteristics of the tuba on microtub (Sofa Music, 2011) and last year Lo explored the tuba as a sound source for dark and intense soundscapes on Anomie (Gigafon, 2012). Now a less experimental yet highly creative tuba player, Lars Andreas Haug, on his third release as a leader, explores new possibilities of this low-end instrument.

Haug plays the traditional tuba and adds the tubamarine (as seen on the cover, imagined as floating in the Oslo fjord)— a homemade instrument derived from a horizontal sawn-off tuba with a long periscope-like tube that enables him to employ a larger rhythmic role than the ordinary tuba. Steffen Schorn plays the tubax, a woodwind instrument that falls in the range between tuba and baritone sax. The sonic range of these unique instruments is expanded with trumpet, accordion, Fender Rhodes, drums and vocals, with an ensemble of musicians who have worked together for a long time to develop a particular blend of sonic textures that mixes tight, nuanced compositions with playful and eccentric improvisations.

The arrangements of Haug place the tuba in refreshing contexts. On the opening "January" the tuba is put between the gentle, sparse vocalization of Camilla Susann Haug and the accordion of Frode Haltli and the trumpet of Gunnar Halle (tr). The funky groove of the title piece stretches the sonic spectrum even more, with the acrobatic vocals of Haug, the addition of Helge Lien Fender Rhodes and the propulsive drumming of Knut Aalefjær. This tune, the following "Vicvac" and "Sarplaniac" sound like a Nordic debt of respect to the virtuoso collaboration of Chick Corea and vocalist Flora Purim in the early incarnation of Return to Forever.

"Sinario" and "Kripos" have serene melodies and both feature a reserved interplay that highlights beautiful, intertwined solos of Halle and Haltli. "Lenki" blossoms a colorful texture of high-end sounds—vocals and accordion—contrasted with the low-end ones—the tubas and the Fender Rhodes. Haug displays the tubamarine punchy attack on the playful "Baxter." This set of well-crafted compositions is closed with the moving, melancholic melody of "December."

Beautiful, unique and witty compositions, performed masterfully by a highly creative ensemble of musicians.

Track Listing: January; Conrairo; Vicvac; Sinrairo; Kripos; Lenki; Sarplaniac; Baxter; December.

Personnel: Lars Andreas Haug: tubmarine, tuba, tubmarine, soprano sax; Frode Haltli: accordion; Helge Lien: rhodes, piano; Gunnar Halle: trumpet, soprano cornet; Camilla Susann Haug: vocals; Knut Aalefjær: drums; Steffen Schorn: tubax.

Title: Conrairo | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Curling Legs

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