168

Joakim Milder: Monolithic

By

Sign in to view read count
Joakim Milder: Monolithic When Louis Armstrong laid down his Hot Five and Hot Seven sessions, he defined jazz as a soloist's art. Since his compact ruminations, generations of players have allowed the solo to define their identity and their composing. Think of Coleman Hawkins' "Body and Soul," Bud Powell's titanic keyboard workouts, Miles Davis opening new modal spaces on "So What" and John Coltrane's cataclysmic reworking of "My Favorite Things"—these were pinnacles of how the solo has driven jazz composition to date.

With his latest release Joakim Milder, the Swedish saxophonist, has inverted the relationship of the jazz solo and jazz composition. On Monolithic he presents a series of what can only be called etudes (a label aided by the fact that he titles them with roman numerals, albeit non-sequential ones). His taut compositions for a quintet of trombone, saxophone, trumpet, bass and drums resemble the Dave Holland Quintet's airtight forms and Dave Douglas' knottier tunes. Rather than run the players through a network of chord changes, Milder makes them link varied ensemble passages, textural explorations and tricky rhythmic stops into a tight whole. Milder re-injects surprise into the jazz idiom by shelving the head-solo-head format, opting instead for compositional tension and longer narrative arcs.

Each of Monolithic 's thirteen compositions works with the same basic materials: succinct yet intense solos, fluctuating pulses, courtesy of bassist Christian Spering and drummer Peter Danemo, brittle glass-like harmonies and more textural passages where the musicians explore the extended techniques of their instruments. On "IX" a gentle, probing melody quickly dissipates into muted drones, percussive mouthpiece pops and other atmospheric gestures, until the opening melody concludes the piece—a twisted take on the head-solo-head form.

On "VII" trumpeter Staffan Svensson, Milder and Spering dialogue, with Svensson darting in and out of Milder’s snaking soprano sax and Spering punctuating the open spaces with tight clusters of rhythmic and melodic counterpoint. By juxtaposing these moments of pure stasis and forward motion, they create a constant tension throughout the piece.

Such juxtapositions and unexpected contrasts make every piece on Monolithic a small journey, worth hearing from beginning to end to see where the group will resolve itself. "III" starts as a bold modal workout in the spirit of Miles' '60s quintet, with Spering and Danemo riding a dynamic, restless walking pulse, building a surely unstoppable momentum. Milder litters fragments of melody in their wake, aided by agile figures from trombonist Peter Dahlgren. Suddenly, Spering and Danemo drop out completely, leaving the saxophone, trumpet and trombone in a bubbling dialogue. It feels like moving upwards in an elevator, only to have it suddenly free-fall, and then be gradually borne up once again when the rhythm returns.

Milder composes tunes that create an ensemble effect, rather than ones that just act as soloing vehicles. He packs sweet harmonies, grooves, free passages and compact solos into almost every tune. Such diversity means that at times the tunes feel schizophrenic and lose spontaneity; when successful, they are captivating studies in how to balance composition and ensemble improvisation.

Visit Apart Records on the web.


Track Listing: 1.XIV 2. XVI 3.VII 4.XXIX 5.V 6.IX 7.XXI 8.XX 9.III 10.VI 11.XXX 12.XXXI 13.II

Personnel: Peter Dahlgren: trombone; Peter Danemo: trumpet; Joakim Milder: saxophone; Christian Spering: bass; Staffan Svensson: trumpet

Title: Monolithic | Year Released: 2004


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Attic CD/LP/Track Review The Attic
by John Sharpe
Published: July 24, 2017
Read Outside The Comfort Zone CD/LP/Track Review Outside The Comfort Zone
by Roger Farbey
Published: July 24, 2017
Read # 1 CD/LP/Track Review # 1
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 24, 2017
Read Tetrawind CD/LP/Track Review Tetrawind
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 24, 2017
Read Triplicate CD/LP/Track Review Triplicate
by Doug Collette
Published: July 24, 2017
Read Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs CD/LP/Track Review Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 23, 2017
Read "Invisible Hand" CD/LP/Track Review Invisible Hand
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 12, 2017
Read "Groovin' Hard: Live At The Penthouse 1964-1968" CD/LP/Track Review Groovin' Hard: Live At The Penthouse 1964-1968
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 18, 2017
Read "Zentuary" CD/LP/Track Review Zentuary
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: June 5, 2017
Read "Tribute to Ndouga Dieng" CD/LP/Track Review Tribute to Ndouga Dieng
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 10, 2017
Read "This Is Nate Najar" CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Nine Thoughts For One Word" CD/LP/Track Review Nine Thoughts For One Word
by John Ephland
Published: October 1, 2016

Support All About Jazz: MAKE A PURCHASE  

Support our sponsor

Upgrade Today!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.

Donate!