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Molde International Jazz Festival 2013

John Kelman By

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The music capitalized on the deep chemistry Dale and Roligheten have built over the past few years, and a language predicated on the saxophonist's extended techniques that included softly articulated multiphonics and a variety of percussive textures. Expanded and orchestrated for the TJO, Albatrosh's music was able to do things that it could often only imply as a duo, combining its intrinsic intimacy with a much broader palette. For one thing, some of this music actually grooved—at one point, swinging, even—while Roligheten was able to combine his extended sonics with those, in particular, of Lønning, whose experience in the duo Streifenjunko with saxophonist Espen Reintertsen explores similar territory. Rolgheten and Lønnning forged a particularly lovely trio with Lo on the third piece of the set, creating a gentle, warm ambiance that somehow managed to seamlessly come together as a single voice.



Knotty melodies, stop/start time and lush harmonies that made full use of the 12-piece TJO—and, at times, Pettersen, who occasionally put down her saxophone to sing wordless vocals to add yet another color to the group—as Albatrosh also provided feature opportunities for everyone in the ensemble but, of particular note, those from Johannessen and Kvernberg, who both seemed capable of just about anything. As the suite of music drew to a close with Dale's gently dark, majestic playing and the horns softly swirling around him, the audience rose to its feet to give the group a well- deserved ovation. Whether or not this music is performed again, one thing is certain: a recording of this music isn't just wanted, it's needed.

July 16: Bill Frisell Big Sur Quartet / Stian Westerhus & Pale Horses

While a daytime trip, by boat and bus, to the Atlantic Road—and pre-lunch speeches from saxophonist/NORCD label head Karl Seglem (who also gave a couple of impromptu goat horn performances on the boat), Norsk Jazzforum's Øyvind Skjerven Larsen, and Trondheim jazz conservatory head Erling Aksdal (who shed some intriguing light on just how this world-famous school manages to turn out so many musicians with fresh and distinct voices), along with a too-brief solo performance from drummer Gard Nilssen (a member of numerous groups but appearing twice at Molde, with Bushman's Revenge and Obara International Quartet)—sadly meant missing Tim Berne's performance with his superb Snakeoil quartet, two performances later that evening demonstrated the festival's sheer diversity.

First up, guitarist Bill Frisell brought the group responsible for his recent Big Sur (Okeh, 2013): violinist Jenny Scheinman; violist Eyvind Kang; cellist Hank Roberts; and drummer {{Rudy Royston}—but here fleshed out to a full septet with the addition of violinist Carrie Rodriguez, whose career as a singer/songwriter is on the ascendancy, based on the strength of albums like her latest, Give Me All You've Got (Ninth Street Opus, 2013). The group focused largely on music from , though there was a brief mid-set nod to "Baba Drame," which has been a regular part of many Frisell shows since it first appeared on The Intercontinentals (Nonesuch, 2003).

The music ran the gamut from the gentle lyricism of "The Music of Glen Deven Ranch" to the surf rock-inspired "The Big One," which delivered some of the set's most powerful moments. There are those who bemoan Frisell's general avoidance of the angularity and aggression these days (though one need only check out his 2013 Tzadik release, Silent Comedy, to know it's still a fundamental part of his musical DNA); even when he kicked in his overdrive, it remained somehow softer, more meditative. While the overall context of the music was consonant, with repetitive string patterns supporting languid melodies that floated over top of Royston (who has rapidly emerged as a drummer with no shortage of creative spark), it still possessed an appealing sense of open space.

There were spotlight moments for everyone in the group—Rodriguez's solo representing one of the show's most impressive moments—but, as is ever the case with Frisell, it's more about the collective than the individual. Even Frisell's position—center stage, yes, but at the back of a semi-circle with the string quartet on his right and Royston on his left—suggested that it may be his name on the marquee but, rather than being a leader, the guitarist acts more as a facilitator, his music providing the context, but whose success rests entirely on the interaction of his chosen group of players, many of whom have been playing with him for several years (in the case of Kang and especially Roberts, decades).

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