Anders Lønne Grønseth & Multiverse: Inner ViewBy
One twenty-first century venture which authentically hits the mark is Israeli-born, New York-based tenor saxophonist Oded Tzur's Middle Path, his deft recalibration of microtonal Indian raga within a jazz framework. This has resulted in two must-hear albums, 2020's Here Be Dragons and 2022's Isabela (both ECM). Importantly, the layperson needs to know nothing about the Middle Path to appreciate Tzur's music. Fellow musicians can engage with the process, the rest of us can simply enjoy the end product.
So it is, too, with Norwegian multi-reedist Anders Lønne Grønseth's Bitonal Scale System, as employed by his band Multiverse, who have released four albums: Multiverse (Pling, 2018), Theory Of Anything (Pling, 2019), Outer View (NXN, 2022) and now in 2023 Inner View. The band is a quintet completed by trumpeter Hayden Powell, pianist Espen Berg, bassist Audun Ellingsen and drummer Einar Scheving, augmented on Inner View by David Arthur Skinner on clavinet and Hohner Pianet.
Grønseth developed the Bitonal Scale System, which as the name suggests brings two scales together as one, as a way to combine elements of musical styles and traditions that have been of particular inspiration to him: the modal approach to jazz harmony, raga, Middle Eastern maqam, and ideas that sprung out of serialism and neo-modalism in European classical music during the early twentieth century. The end result is a scalar structure that opens up new harmonic and melodic possibilities, a musical colouring box elegantly beyond the norm (check the YouTube below).
Knowing that backstory (and the previous paragraph only scratches the most skeletal outline) enhances the enjoyment of Multiverse's music, but it is absolutely not a prerequisite. As Grønseth says in the liner notes for Outer View: "From a listener's point of view, the aural conception is all that matters." In other words, what you hear is what you get, and what you hear is what it is.
And it is delightful, a seemingly organic combination of precomposition, systematicity and intuitive, in-the-moment, jazz-based improvisation. While in a sense all five musicians are soloing all the time, the most prominent among them are Grønseth and Berg, two giants of Norwegian jazz who each merit a far higher international profile than they have acquired so far. Inner View was recorded during the same sessions which produced Outer View. The tracks on the earlier album can perhaps be generalized as fiercer than those on the new one, but that is an oversimplification: the music on one disc morphs into that on the other with no audible joins. The main difference between the albums is that all the members of Multiverse composed tunes for Outer View while Grønseth alone wrote those on Inner View.
Like Oded Tzur's ECM albums, Anders Lønne Grønseth and Multiverse's NXN albums are must-hear releases. Philosophers tell us that there is nothing entirely new under the sun. But Tzur and Grønseth are each offering something so box fresh that it is substantially novel and measurably extends the parameters of jazz, taking traditions into previously uncharted territory.
Biom I Løvtraer; Biom II Barskog; Biom III Tundra; Bidevind; Bismaksprøve; Bismarksvals; Bibringeren; Bi Iitt!;
Anders Lønne Grønseth: saxophone, tenor; Hayden Powell: trumpet; Espen Berg: piano; Einar Scheving: drums; Audun Ellingsen: bass, acoustic.
Anders Lønne Grønseth: saxophones, bass clarinet; David Skinner: clavinet and Hohner Pianet.
Title: Inner View | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: NXN Recordings
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About Anders Lønne Grønseth
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