Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Mats Eilertsen: Hymn For Hope


Mats Eilertsen: Hymn For Hope


Sign in to view read count
Mats Eilertsen: Hymn For Hope
Norwegian bassist & composer Mats Eilertsen has done his best to stay active during the pandemic. His previous solo album Solitude Central (Hemli, 2021) was drawn from his captivating improvised performance during the 2020 Norwegian Digital Jazz Festival. Hymn For Hope is a quartet album, with Eilertsen's compositions augmented by a few brief collective improvisations. He is joined by saxophonist Tore Brunborg—a member of the band Masqualero, as well as appearing on ECM albums by Tord Gustavsen and Mathias Eick—guitarist Thomas Dahl—who previously played on Eilertsen's album Rubicon (ECM Records, 2016), with Eilersen in the Skydive Trio and led his own debut Thomas Dahl & Court: Quilter (Losen Records, 2019)—and drummer Hans Hulbækmo (Moskus, Hanna Paulsberg Concept).

"Little Thug" opens the set with an easy swing feel, and a classic cool jazz tone from the saxophone. "K" is a rubato excursion, with melodic saxophone balanced by atmospheric guitar, until Dahl erupts into a fiery solo before being joined by Brunborg in a unison line. "Circle" makes an impressive entry with an ostinato pattern reflective of the title, and energetic solos from guitar and saxophone. The title tune establishes the hymn-like atmosphere of the album title while still retaining a rubato rhythmic feel until the very end, with an ecstatic saxophone theme fading into a gentle coda.

"M" is firmly back in rhythmic territory, with Dahl's guitar providing both atmospherics and a powerful solo. "Sunday" opens with a contemplative bass solo over a drone and a regular drum rhythm before ushering in a solemn theme, followed by sinuous saxophone and guitar solos. "August" exudes the expected warmth and sunshine, but there is also space for a sparse, rubato bridge. "Call" is the longest of the improvisations, led by keening saxophone and rumbling arco double bass, followed by the bracing rock of "First" (and its contrasting lyrical bridge). "X" concludes the set with atmospheric percussion and a guitar ostinato. After a typically melancholy theme the leader takes a final lyrical solo.

Eilertsen took the cover photo, an enigmatic black and white image of two people sharing a public space, but facing away from each other: together, yet apart. A fitting visual metaphor for his compositions and the empathetic playing of his band mates.

Track Listing

Little Thug; Oscuro; K; Sunrise; Circle Hymn For Hope; M; Sunday; August; Chiaro; Call; First; X.


Album information

Title: Hymn For Hope | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Hemli


For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.



Ruth Goller
Mike LeDonne
Heart Mind and Soul
Randy Bernsen
Tidal Currents: East Meets West
Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra


Vijay Iyer
Jazz Hands
Bob James
London Afrobeat Collective

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.