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Morten Schantz: Godspeed

Jakob Baekgaard By

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Old friendships are never forgotten, and sometimes they grow stronger as time goes by. This is also the case with musical friendships. Back in the days, in 2005 exactly, pianist and composer Morten Schantz played with saxophonist Marius Neset and drummer Anton Eger in the acclaimed group JazzKamikaze. They were full of youthful energy and to this day, the group has not officially disbanded.

The members have also moved on to other projects. Both Neset and Eger eventually became affiliated with the prestigious British label, Edition Records, and made a name for themselves. Neset as a solo artist, who later moved on to ACT Records, and Eger as an essential part of the power-trio, Phronesis, perhaps one of the most profiled acts in the Edition roster.

Now the three musicians are united again with a record on Edition Records, naturally, and this time with Schantz in the role of the leader.

Godspeed is Schantz' ambitious attempt to create a coherent album that is not only a collection of tunes, but an organic work of art where each piece is a part of a greater whole. Perhaps Schantz' greatest gift is the way he constructs a narrative arc in his music. The flow in the album takes the listener through the acoustic oasis of "Cathedral," with reminiscences of J.S. Bach's piano music, the playful avant-garde miniature, "Nuclear Fusion" and, not least, the epic compositions like the title track, "Growing Sense," "Martial Arts," "Ceasefire," "Drill" and "Dark Matter."

Those six tracks are the core of the album and they all showcase Schantz' ability to create musical epiphanies that in many ways are the result of Schantz' music being too much. The instruments he plays are a case in point. There are simply too many to mention, but among them are strings and beat machines, vintage synthesizers and all sorts of keyboards. Luckily, it is the machines that serve the music and not the other way around.

The interplay between Eger's organic drums and the beats creates a fascinating effect and like Schantz, Neset's playing is also too much, but again in a positive sense. He embraces the full drama of the music, bringing aspects of Nordic lyricism, instrumental fury and smooth sounds to the table.

The final result is music that creates such a rare thing in jazz as anthems. Schantz is able to embrace a carefully constructed dramaturgy as his music often explodes or unfolds in melodic hooks that are so grand that they would fit a stadium. Godspeed is the closest thing that sophisticated jazz fusion will come to pure pop music.

Track Listing: Silence in the Tempest (Part I); Godspeed; Escape Velocity; Growing Sense; Martial Arts; Airglow; Ceasefire; Cathedral; Drill; Nuclear Fusion; Dark Matter; Silence in the Tempest (Part II).

Personnel: Morten Schantz: Fender Rhodes; Electric Piano; Sequential Prophet 6; Roland Juno 60; Moog Sub 37; Korg MS-20 mini; Korg Volca Keys; Solina String Ensemble; Waldorf Streichfett; Arturia Beatstep Pro; Upright Piano & handclaps; Marius Neset: soprano and tenor saxophones; Korg MS-10 bass synth on “Martial Arts”; rhodes solo; handclaps; Anton Eger: drums, percussion & handclaps.

Title: Godspeed | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Edition Records

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