Twenty-five years on from her debut, A Live
(Music Mecca, 1997), recorded at Copenhagen's Jazzhaus, Danish saxophonist Pernille Bevort
returns with another live outing. Live
is only her second live recording as leader in that time, though 2021 did see the archival releases, in EP format, of a quartet performance from 1999 and another of Bévort heading a septet from 2002-2003. Live
also marks the second release in fairly swift succession from Bévort 3, following 2021's self- produced On Fire
, which earned the saxophonist a nomination in the Best Jazz Album category of the Danish Music Awards.
Bévort's regular rhythm team of bassist Morten Ankarfeldt
and drummer Espen Laub von Lillienskjold
provide finely attuned accompaniment to the saxophonist's rhythmically supple, melodically framed forays. Whilst a chordless trio faces rhythmic challenges it also presents opportunities; Bévort 3 takes the bull by the horns, embracing the freedoms inherent in this particular trio format to revel in visceral interplay. And though the music stems from the post-bop language of the 1950s and 1960s, it never strays into boundless free-form improvisation; Bévort is essentially a composer who improvises, with melodic and rhythmic lines serving as both points of departure and guiding lights along the way.
The catchy bass ostinato and melodic hook of "Who's Got It" tees things up nicely for extended solos from Ankarfeldt and the leader, who then join in a gently stated vamp as von Lillienskjold ventures forth in the home stretch. Boppish bustle characterizes "Bevarro," with fast-waking bass and busy ride cymbal giving way to a spiky to-and-fro between drummer and saxophonist. Bévort is also adept at mixing it up, with astute changes of tempo and mood keeping the set fresh and enticing throughout. "Apricot Blossom" may begin and end as a brushes-steered mood piece, with the leader plying a lyrical course on soprano saxophone, but von Lillienskjold's switch to sticks kickstarts the trio, provoking a spirited response from Bévort.
Likewise, intro and outro of "Mit Fiktive Sommerhus" tell one taledark and broodingwhile the trio's loose-limbed interplay in the mid-section, crowned by Bévort's keening explorations on soprano saxophone, tells another one entirely. "Trefoil," a typically playful Bévort composition, walks a quirky line between free-form abstraction, scurrying unison and unaccompanied tenor lyricism. The title track of Bévort's Trio Temptations
(Gateway Music, 2014) and the pulsating "Minor Clues" from Perfect Organisation
(Gateway Music, 2011) bring the best out of the leader, her burrowing solos unearthing a wealth of riches.
Bévort is equally compelling when dealing in fewer notes, as witnessed on her reading of the blues-inflected ballad "Theme for Ernie," penned by guitarist Fred Lacey in memory of Ernie Henry
, and previously recorded by the likes of John Coltrane
, McCoy Tyner
and Joe Lovano
. Bévort's seductive playing on these beautiful standard shares something of Lovano's warm tone and the tender lyricism of Lacey's former employer, Lester Young
Though the above-mentioned saxophonists are all part of a lineage that Bévort sits comfortably in, what is most striking about this impressive live set is just how distinctive her own voice is, even when drawing upon a time-honored lingua franca. Hopefully, it won't be another twenty-five years before Bévort's next live recording.
Who’s Got It: Apricot Blossom; Bevarro; Mit Fiktive Sommerhus; Trefoil; Trio Temptations; Minor
Clues; Theme for Ernie.