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This follow-up to Eyolf Dale's 2018 album Return To Mind, as with its 2016 predecessor, Dale's Wolf Valley, features André Roligheten on tenor sax and clarinet. But crucially, on Departure Dale and Roligheten have dispensed with a rhythm section. This is not a new format since this Norwegian pair had played in a duo configuration under the name of Albatrosh, and as a result winning the Jazzintro award in 2008. They released their debut album Seagull Island (Inner Ear) in 2009, and have produced a further four Albatrosh albums since then.
Dale's aptly titled opener, "First Clue" does indeed proffer an indication of the ensuing tracks. The chiaroscuro meanderings range from pastoral to Roligheten's more visceral tenor sallies. But always the two musicians trace a symbiotic path together. On Dale's "Just Woke Up," there's a change in the piano approach which becomes more vibrant and, initially, follows an ostinato chordal pattern but regularly references the main motif of the piece. But always Roligheten evinces a volley of limpid high register notes which serve to enchant and, at times, mesmerize. Dale's deft, fleet-footed piano lines on "Moon Jogger" perfectly complement Roligheten's serpentine saxophone which oscillates from sombre to strident, frequently within the same breath.
Roligheten's "Reflection" epitomises the lyrical nature of the compositions whilst "Accelerate Wormhole" is a collective improvisation that clearly demonstrates how the two musicians play together with a near-telepathic sensibility. This synergy is repeated in their other jointly composed track "Crystalline." Overall the music is characterised by a dreamlike quality and aligns itself more to contemporary classical conventions and improvisation whilst studiously eschewing jazz clichés, thus rendering the album intriguingly idiosyncratic.
First Clue; Just Woke Up; Take Me Home; Reflection; Accelerate Wormhole; Celestial Bodies; Moon
Eyolf Dale: piano; André Roligheten: tenor saxophone, clarinet.