Thanks in large part to labels like ECM, Odin Records and Rune Grammofon, jazz fans in the US have become familiar with a many Norwegian and Scandinavian jazz artists. Copenhagen based Girls in Airports has not been one of those groups but it's about time the quintet broke into this market. The group debuted with a self-produced, self-titled album in 2010. Then a quartet, an additional percussionist joined with their sophomore release. Live is their fifth album and is culled from three 2017 concerts in Hamburg, Dresden and Berlin.
Saxophonist Martin Stender wrote all twelve songs with undesignated group participation. "Kantine" opens at a languid pace, building to a feverish pitch built on the interaction of Stender and fellow saxophonist Lars Greve. The two then engage in a more careful choreography, lightly sparing with each other before the piece quietly fades away. Keyboardist Mathias Holm gently guides in "Kaikoura," the reeds falling into line, sparked by imaginative soloing. "Broken Stones" has a darker feeling to it, influenced by Holm's electronics and a brooding pacing. The reeds, in the upper register, add a Celtic ambience but then breakout into freer improvisation.
A more exotic melody permeates "Fables," giving way to a saxophone drone and then an avant-garde passage that could be out of early Pink Floyd. Percussionist Victor Dybbroe had previously worked with The Gamelan, an Indonesian ensemble of percussion instruments, and he brings some of that flavor to "Episodes." "Aeiki" takes global influences a step further as both Asian and African influences can be heard. "ADAC," "Need a Light," "Migration" and "King's Birthday" are more abstract and discordant, at times solidly dropping into free improvisation. The album closes with "Vejviser," returning to the model that opened the album, keys and reeds quietly and dramatically ending the set.
Girls in Airports has an unusual sound; with a blend of lyrical, driving and global music, they represent an alternative direction for jazz and one that is largely untapped. Edition Records is making significant inroads in bringing artists from the UK, Finland, Norway, Denmark and throughout Europe, to the broader global audience. Phronesis, Django Bates and Verneri Pohjola are among the artists who have found a home on the label. Live represents some of the best jazz coming out of Denmark, and Girls in Airports are well worth a listen.
Kantine; Kaikoura; Broken Stones; Fables; Episodes; Aeiki; Albert Kahn; ADAC; Need a Light; Migration; King’s Birthday; Vejviser.
Martin Stender: saxophones; Lars Greve: saxophones and clarinets; Mathias Holm: keys; Victor Dybbroe: percussion; Mads Forsby: drums.
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