Eyolf Dale April Jazz Espoo, Finland April 26, 2019
In keeping with the gradual arrival of spring in southern Finland and the mini festival just outside Helsinki, April Jazz, Norwegian bandleader Eyolf Dale brought a strong sense of musical color. The breadth of his musical taste runs from Shostakovich (he admits) to the Simpsons (I'm supposing), with a slight tendency towards Scandinavian melancholy. And with the broad palette of Dale's seven band members bringing his sometime lugubrious tunes to life, the music set the stage interesting and even surprising evening.
There's some similarity between this music and that of the original Penguin Cafe Orchestra, with simple themes set up by the leader, contorted and then traded between band members. While in the studio this diversity might seem contrived, live this works exceptionally. The Mayor showed that interaction and development is possible, and was led typically led by the interplay between Dale's assertive piano and Rob Waring's bubbling vibraphone.
Other pieces, such as the title track from his latest album Return to Mind, and Midsumer Gardens evoked just what the titles suggested. A slowly evolving piano-led meander flowed though a selection of themes with only minimal involvement of the rest of the band until the closing motif. This may be easy listening, but there was tension and excitement too.
Although performing under their leader's name, the performance underlined Dale's skill in harnessing the timbres and dynamics of such a broad palette. A good example was the duel between Adrian Waade's violin and Hayden Powell's trumpet on I Can't Deny. Over a catchy rhythm, the two instrumentalists solo'd and interwove their parts in both a lazy and combative way, until the resolution involving all the band. Away from the main stage where John Scofield, Bobby McFerrin and Joshua Redman performed, this evening later featuring modern Finnish jazz in the relaxed atmosphere of the 'studio stage' of Louhisali in the Tapiola Arts Center was a stylish and entertaining show.
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