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Album Review

Erik Palmberg: In Between

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Erik Palmberg: In Between
Not many records reveal themselves in an instant. Yet a thoughtful presence and pensive vibe are apparent from the start of Erik Palmberg's In Between. His second record as a leader follows his successful debut, First Lines (Stockholm Jazz Records, 2018), an earthy display of vintage jazz adorned with modern expressionism. It was a launch point of some caliber that left the door open for growth and experimentation. While said growth seemed likely, it surpasses expectations when it is in the form of a long jump.

Nine Palmberg originals are joined by a well-tailored cut on the classic "Taking A Chance On Love." Shifting between quartet and quintet ensembles, "Pathways" opens into the thoughtful entrance with baryton Hampus T. Adami creating the pathway for Palmberg's dynamic free running flugelhorn, into soft exchanges with pianist Anton Dromberg. The sophisticated piece was an early demonstration of what was to come and was followed by the title track. "In Between" is a mesmerizing piece that illustrates Palmberg's innate ability to combine heart with savory note selections on his trumpet. While Palmberg draws from a variety of trumpeters, from Freddie Hubbard and Miles Davis to Tom Harrell and Kenny Wheeler, his own signature sound has now emerged. It is one of crisp articulation on a wide array of note selections, and an innate sense of taking the music in the direction it wants to go. Even on "Unfamiliar Field," Palmberg would seem very comfortable entering a world inhabited by Arturo Sandoval. His high register bursts unleashed a of fiery sound that he carries into solo branches. Double bassist Robert Erlandsson and drummer Jonas Backman forge a rhythmic samba feel that underscores Palmberg as he slides into another bright solo.

Palmberg shifts down gear into his sprightly arrangement of "Taking A Chance On Love." While this beautiful melody is sensibly played in traditional fashion, the solo extensions are given an all new feel that puts his personal stamp on it. Palmberg and trombonist Karin Hammar embark on innovative conversations, before the band shits effortlessly into a piano trio mode, and just as smoothly back to the horns where Palmberg and Hammar lift to even more vivid heights in an interactive conclusion. Palmberg and company had the benefit of using the renowned echo chamber at Atlantis Studios in Sweden on a couple of songs. Most notably on "Distant Signals." The real echo, not a digital one, gives presence and a dynamic to a song that is uniquely paced. The song is somewhat of a turning point on the record, as it claims new territory and direction. It leads to a clever arrangement of Palmberg's cascading "Frost Flowers" in an encasement built by bassist Erlandsson and pianist Dromberg. As with most of the songs on this record, the arrangement was clearly refined in sessions. Illustrative of the heart and desire to make something special, this would seem a product of an ensemble searching for the right combinations. It shines again through "The Lighthouse." Palmberg's fluidity, heart, and personal grasp of note selections are on display. He gently takes the reins and sifts through a decadent palette of crystal clear notes that can grab you and take you through an array of emotions.

The record reaches another zenith with savvy and inspired "Conversations." With Palmberg once again on his flugelhorn, he deftly engages in unison with Adami on baryton. The band kicks in with bassist Erlandsson then fueling a gateway for Palmberg to interact with Hammar on trombone. Their rich vocabulary ignites an orbital run that flies high into an imaginative landing point. "Lingering Thoughts" is equally ambitious and extends boundaries. With Erlandsson's bass setting an edge, Palmberg and Hammar power into a vibrant exchange with improvisation of the highest order. The journey concludes, not surprisingly, with thoughtful "Inflections." Dromberg's ample frame left a wide open range for Palmberg to roam. He left us with a myriad of shapes and sizes to ponder in melodic bliss.

Alternately bold, expressive, comforting, and engaging, "In Between" follows an annual pattern of late season arrivals that are among the year's best.

Track Listing

Pathways; In Between; Unfamiliar Field; Taking a Chance on Love; Distant Signals; Frost Flowers; The Lighthouse; Conversations; Lingering Thoughts; Inflections.

Personnel

Erik Palmberg: flugelhorn; Anton Dromberg: piano; Niklas Wennström: bass; Sebastian Voegler: drums; Robert Erlandssson: bass.

Additional Instrumentation

Jonas Backman: drums; Karin Hammar: trombone; Hampus T. Adami: baryton.

Album information

Title: In Between | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Prophone Records


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