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Swedish pianist and composer Klas Nevrin, known for his ongoing collaborations with reed player Fredrik Ljungkvist in Ljungkvist's bands Yun Kan 5 and Yun Kan 10 and in the Norwegian- Swedish quartet Honeyleap, suggests a new arresting sonic aesthetic in his new solo album. His compositions forge a middle path between the rock-inspired lineage of free jazz and the ultra- minimalist school of contemporary improvisation, without settling for any of these contrasting aesthetics. Furthermore, Nevrin applied alternative, non-Western micro-tonal intonation systems to his compositions, such as the Indian Raga or the Balinese Gamelan, following innovative composers and improvisers who were inspired by such systems as Joe Maneri, Terry Riley and Lou Harrison, and added compositional structures inspired by composers like Charles Ives and György Ligeti.
Nevrin Ensemble is comprised of drummer Ricard Österstam, who worked with Nervin in the group Fancy Machine during the nineties, violinist Katt Hernandez, who played with him in Yun Kan 10, acclaimed reed player Per "Texas" Johansson and double bassist Vilhelm Bromander. All perform the intricate, demanding cerebral compositions with impressive command and imagination. The ensemble realizes Nevrin's vision with impressive flexibility and precision. It creates a rich dynamic spectrum, a timbre or sound color that blends a large variety of acoustic and electronic sounds. They play at a very low volume without losing expression and color, shift organically between symmetric and asymmetric tempos and offer a provocative listening experience that does not commit itself to any school.
Nevrin wisely weaves together distant musical universes as on "Marvelous Lou," an imaginative homage to Harrison, where he applies a Harrison devised scale blending the Western, just intonation twelve notes with Far- Eastern, Indonesian quarter-tones. "Quasi-Flamenco" beautifully bridges a blues scale with the rhythmic style of Flamenco called soleá, enjoying nuanced layering of shifting tempos. The interpretation of Ligeti's "Musica ricercata no. 7" enables Österstam to improvise freely and playfully, contrasting the grave spirit written in Ligeti score. This playful approach is applied again on "Extoning," a term used by voice therapists, which means to hum or make a sound while breathing out. The ensemble revises this form of minimalist sonic articulation, with great focus of detail and color variation.
The album was recorded live in Stockholm on the Lucia evening, the Swedish festival on the 13th of December. On this date, in the midst of deep, wintry darkness, the slow return of light is celebrated. It is traditionally believed that on such nights unnatural beings are in motion and benevolent forces are beseeched. The highly original compositions and masterful performances suggest that supernatural forces were in motion and affected the magical music.
Track Listing: Marvelous Lou; Progressions in D; Quasi-Flamenco; Emersonian Cadenzas;
Musica ricercata no. 7; Revamped; Extoning.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.