Featuring finely crafted compositions and precise, yet stirring performances, Countryside is an ambitious and lovely followup to Frøy Aagre Offbeat's debut album, 2004's Katalyze. The album sports varying moods, veering from stately elegance to moments of more delicate humor and whimsy.
Composed and arranged by the saxophonist/leader, each track has obviously been worked over with care. While the longest song clocks in at just five minutes, each work features a palpable sense of movement and development. Featuring groaning cello playing by Kari Ravnan (who adds richness to three of the nine tracks) and sparkling piano work by Andreas Ulvo, "Sold Gold spins and builds from languid solos into a grand restatement of the main theme in an admirably compact arrangement. Likewise, "Last Waltz progresses from a quirky, high-spirited trot to a suitably grand Old World waltz in a little under four and a half minutes. The title track (with fond clarinet interjections) is simply a perfectly peaceful reverie.
Countryside is dense but far from inaccessible, due to the sheer tunefulness of the writing and the pithy inventiveness of the playing. No instrumental star shines brighter than the others on the album. This unit truly functions as a band, each member playing off one other and, above all, serving the songs.
Track Listing: The Wheel; Solid Gold; Last Waltz; Rainy Afternoon; Canadian Rockies pt. 1; Canadian Rockies pt. 2; Fastball; A Nice Walk; Countryside.
Personnel: Frøy Aagre: tenor and soprano saxophones; Andreas Ulvo: piano; Audun Ellingsen: double-bass; Freddy Wike: drums; Kari Ravnan: cello (1, 2, 7); Morten Michelsen: clarinets (1, 2, 5-7, 9).
I was first exposed to jazz as a baby. When I was a child, my parents regularly played classic jazz, i.e., Fitzgerald, Hawkins, Holiday, Davis, Coltrane, Monk, Montgomery, Silver, etc. I vividly remember sitting in front of the stereo as a kid, rocking back and forth to jazz, so the music is embedded in me
I was first exposed to jazz as a baby. When I was a child, my parents regularly played classic jazz, i.e., Fitzgerald, Hawkins, Holiday, Davis, Coltrane, Monk, Montgomery, Silver, etc. I vividly remember sitting in front of the stereo as a kid, rocking back and forth to jazz, so the music is embedded in me. As a life-long jazz lover, I eventually became a jazz educator and producer/host of a very popular jazz radio program in Los Angeles, California.
I love jazz because it is so free. I can think, feel, and dream to jazz, and it allows my mind to flow and expand, musically and otherwise. I also love jazz because it, much like other forms of music, allows opportunities to bring people from all walks of life together. What makes jazz more significant to me, though, is its historical significance; that is, how jazz served, in part, as a method of bringing communities together, a cultural/social/spiritual conduit.