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Jasper Høiby: Fellow Creatures

Roger Farbey By

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Taking a break from his highly (and justifiably) praised trio Phronesis, virtuoso bassist Jasper Hoiby described the rationale for Fellow Creatures thus: "it's been a dream of mine for a while to start a larger ensemble and to have the option of writing for two melody instruments as well as the trio."

Høiby also regards the album in three ways; first he wanted to tell a story with a whole album, establishing a relationship between the album and its listeners by enticing them to play it over and over again so that they became intimately familiar with the music. Secondly, the titles are inspired by author Naomi Klein's 2014 best-selling book "This Changes Everything," whose politically-charged environmental propositions are shared by Høiby. Finally the album is dedicated to Høiby's sister Janette who passed away earlier this year.

Høiby describes the music presented here as "less explosive" (than Phronesis), which it certainly is. From the start, the pastoral "Folk Song" is nearer the writing of Jan Garbarek with its delicate melody introduced by Polar Bear's Mark Lockheart on tenor saxophone and rising British jazz star Laura Jurd, heard here on flugelhorn. By contrast, the ensuing title track gathers pace, with Jurd here producing some feisty trumpet runs interspersed by Lockheart's brazen tenor.

On "World Of Contradictions" the melody evinced by the two horns is played over Will Barry's deft piano line which dominates the piece. Again Barry is heard leading "Little Song For Mankind" over an inexorably building ensemble and the piece is enhanced by Corrie Dick's subtle drumming. "Song For The Bees" signals a heart- warming break from previous numbers with Jasper Hoiby's pizzicato bass vamp evincing an almost Calypso-like rhythm. Corrie Dick's drums create a vital backdrop to the hypnotic "Tangible" whereas the shorter "Collective Spaces," led by the twin horns, is imbued by a contrapuntal pre-electric Ornette Coleman feel.

The tranquil "Suddenly, Everyone" affords ample soloing opportunities for Lockheart, Jurd and Høiby, whereas "Before" beginning with a staccato riff, is a lithe double bass and tenor sax duet breaking down into a more regular rhythmic pattern courtesy of Høiby's obligato bass line over which Lockheart solos before both instruments erratically take up the riff once more, slowing to a conclusion.

The final track "Plastic Island," beginning with laughing and growling voices, is the most strident of all the numbers, an ensemble riff played over a contrasting piano melody and insistent rhythm. Jasper Hoiby's wistful yet vibrant compositions are uniformly irresistible and with excellent performances all round, this seductively addictive album is going to yield frequent and satisfying plays. So, measured by that criterion, Høiby's intentions have been most definitely realised.

Track Listing: Folk Song; Fellow Creatures; World Of Contradictions; Little Song For Mankind; Song For The Bees; Tangible; Collective Spaces; Suddenly Everyone; Before; Plastic Island.

Personnel: Jasper Høiby: double bass; Mark Lockheart: tenor saxophone; Laura Jurd: trumpet, flugelhorn; Will Barry: piano; Corrie Dick: drums.

Title: Fellow Creatures | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Edition Records

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