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Upon hearing the first notes of Irrealis, there was a strong sense of déjà vu that just would not quit. As "Modus Irrealis continued to play, it hit me Loren Stillman's How Sweet It Is! The piano voicings, Milder's tone and the flow of the melody and the interaction of the drums and bass produced an uncanny likeness. Hopes, which were raised, were mixed with suspicion as the track continued.
The rest of the album allayed any fears of musical plagiarism, but at the same time that which proved so attractive on the first track proved to surface only occasionally. Fully one third of the album is given over to "Itness II, IV, III and I, which are listed as composed by the whole band, which I take to mean collective improvisations. "Itness II, the first one played, is actually quite attractive, in a meter-less meandering way, but one of these would have been enough. Not only that but after track two, the "Itness-es take tracks six, eight and ten, almost overwhelming the second half of the album.
That said, the rest of the tracks, written by Zakrisson have more structure and coherence because of a stronger melodic component. "Modus Irrealis, after noises that sound a bit like setting up, presents a melody by the sax and bass in unison with piano pluckings and drum tappings played behind. This free section then leads to a boppish rendition of the same theme, and then to a freely swinging improvisation. "Miss Pasa and (Monsigneur) S starts out similarly, with piano and bass playing the melody, leading to a free bass solo with piano accompaniment that ultimately takes off as a pulse emerges. "Devi Dance can easily be heard as a slow dance ballad, which leads to "Swoop as a real late-night ballad. "Big Hand is immediately memorable and catchy while "Ut," which ends the album, can only be called a beautiful hymn of ecstasy that builds to a very fulfilling climax between Milder and Zakrisson, ending with the piano alone.
Zakrisson clearly is a talented writer whose piano sound can be a little hard, and Milder, usually thought of as a tenor saxophonist, stays mainly in the high register, producing an alto-like open sound. Overall, Irrealis gets the nod as its strengths overcome its weaknesses.
Track Listing: Modus Irrealis (7:06), Itness II (4:59), Miss Pasa and (Monsigneur) S (7:18), Devi Dance (4:08), Swoop (6:08), Itness IV (4:47), Big Hand (4:35), Itness III (5:43), Have to see (every day) (4:40), Itness I (5:03), Ut (6:11)
Personnel: Johan Zakrisson - piano, Joakim Milder - saxophone, Nils Olmedal - bass, Jon Falt - drums
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.