353

Lars Danielsson: Melange Bleu

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Lars Danielsson: Melange Bleu Music—improvised or scored—is inextricably linked with how it's arranged or orchestrated, a point made crystal clear by Lars Danielsson's Mélange Bleu. The bonus track on the Swedish bassist/cellist/ pianist's Libera Me (ACT, 2004) hinted at the direction Danielsson would take on Mélange Blue—a blending of acoustic instruments, concert orchestra and technology to create a lush new mix (or Mélange) that retains Danielsson's innate lyricism, but places it in the sonic realm of Nu Jazz.

With some of the most intrepid aural explorers on the Norwegian scene, Danielsson finds his own nexus point among sumptuous grooves, temporal elasticity, dense soundscapes and sparser ambience. Improvisation is an integral part of the mix, but it's as much about the extemporaneous development of texture as it is more conventional melodic, harmonic and rhythmic interaction (though there's plenty of that to be found as well).

The propulsive beat of "Bacchanalia" seems custom-built for the dance floor, though Danielsson's layered bass and cello create a more complex mix that approaches an edgier aesthetic. "Ironside" has an equally relentless pulse, but if one pares it away, the intro could easily be interpreted as a gentle ballad or purely ambient piece save for the greater forward motion Danielsson's piano solo ultimately provides.

Eivind Aarset contributes the kind of anti-guitar textures for which he's become renowned. Jan Bang's samples are always compelling, but it's his live sampling—where music played in real time is sampled, then processed and fed back to inspire new ideas—that so distinctly defines his musical identity. Bang and turntablist Paal "Strangefruit" Nyhus have demonstrated, for a number of years, that technology is absolutely capable of being used in a real time, improvisational context. What elevates the concept even further is the inclusion of drummer/percussionist Jon Christensen, whose unique approach to time provides the ambient title track with a pulse, albeit one that's not necessarily easy to define clearly.

"Judas Bolero," the twenty-minute centerpiece of Mélange Bleu, begins with a spare trio of Danielsson, trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer and Christensen, sonically expanded through Bang's live sampling. The piece gradually evolves, with pianist Bugge Wesseltoft adding greater harmonic depth, but it's Danielsson's scoring for the Copenhagen Concert Orchestra (also performing on three other tracks) that takes what is, in fact, a lengthy improvisation and gives it remarkable form. The concept of writing parts around an improv isn't new, but few have done it as well as Danielsson does here.

More consistently successful than Libera Me, Mélange Bleu works because, while Danielsson understands the jazz tradition (made clear on the elegant "Naive"), it's only one part of the greater continuum in which he and his band mates are working. Extended vamps are equal grist as changes-based writing for collective interaction, but it's Danielsson's rare combination of harmonic, melodic, rhythmic and textural form and freedom that makes Mélange Bleu such a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

Track Listing: Mélange Bleu; Makro; Les Coulisses; Ironside; Judas Bolero; Minor People; Sketches of Twelve; Naive; Bacchanalia; After Zero.

Personnel: Lars Danielsson: cello, acoustic bass, Fender electric bass, piano (1, 4, 6, 10); Fender Rhodes (9); Bugge Wesseltoft: piano (3, 5-8), piano solo (6); Nils Petter Molvaer: trumpet (2, 5, 9); Eivind Aarset: guitar; Jon Christensen: drums and percussion (1, 3-9); Anders Engen: drums (4, 7, 10); Jan Bang: samples, live sampling; Paal "Strangefruit" Nyhus: vinyl channeling; Vytas Basanov: beats and samples (2); Mario Basanov: beats and samples (2); Caecilie Norby: voices (4); Gustaf Ljunggren: steel guitar (1, 8); synthesizer (4); Xavier Desandre Navarre: percussion (4, 9); Copenhagen Concert Orchestra, directed by Henrik Vagn Christensen (2-5).

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: ACT Nu Jazz | Style: Electronica


Shop

More Articles

Read Circles CD/LP/Track Review Circles
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 24, 2017
Read Windmills CD/LP/Track Review Windmills
by Edward Blanco
Published: March 24, 2017
Read Ugly Beautiful CD/LP/Track Review Ugly Beautiful
by David A. Orthmann
Published: March 24, 2017
Read Trickster CD/LP/Track Review Trickster
by Glenn Astarita
Published: March 24, 2017
Read Caipi CD/LP/Track Review Caipi
by Geannine Reid
Published: March 24, 2017
Read United CD/LP/Track Review United
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 23, 2017
Read "The Long Road" CD/LP/Track Review The Long Road
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 30, 2016
Read "Otterville" CD/LP/Track Review Otterville
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 11, 2016
Read "The Volume Surrounding the Task" CD/LP/Track Review The Volume Surrounding the Task
by John Eyles
Published: July 6, 2016
Read "Saturday Songs" CD/LP/Track Review Saturday Songs
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: August 5, 2016
Read "My Foolish Heart" CD/LP/Track Review My Foolish Heart
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 3, 2017
Read "Piano Song" CD/LP/Track Review Piano Song
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 9, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: DOT TIME RECORDS | BUT IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!