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Hans Ulrik/Steve Swallow/Jonas Johansen
Tin Pan Aliens
To generalize about these three Danish bands: unusual duo/trio formats; quirky sing-song melodies and odd textures; short (3-4') forms; moody, intimate stories told rather slooowly - at least the first two; busy, unconventional drummers; and a preference for modest miniatures over rambunctious overblowing.
Ventilator huffs clean air through an arch, stiff set that occasionally conjures the outer reaches of Paul Motian's Trio with Joe Lovano and Bill Frisell. Jesper Lovdal mostly plays precise clarinet but also gruff baritone, Webster-ish tenor and cool flute. Mark Solborg's preparations for guitar grasp a wild array of sonic levels: smooth chorale, underripe feedback, feverish pecking at paperclips, detuned strums, a sound like electric ukulele wired to a camera shutter. And Anders Provis' drums range far and wide from hard mallets, subtle brushes, cymbal outbursts, punchy toms. Tracks called "Tales from the Lawn suggest, as does the music itself, a film score of micro-lens adventures among insects and spider webs.
Composer Jacob Anderskov on Pådansk reaches back into the Danish folksong book for whimsical boyhood reminiscences that slip in and out of traditional harmonies and arc between softly skittering piano/drum dialogues (drummers Peter Øle Jørgensen and Anders Mogensen as one breathe brush and cymbal into life) into an all-too-brief trio with Henriette Groth's winsome clarinet and a clutch of octet charts that often ride under Ned Ferm's bold tenor sax and upon Nils Davidsen's powerful bass. When hearing these songs Anderskov "feel[s] the seasons then and now melting together into one image ; thus unfolds a suite of bold, even majestic eddas. Improvisation appears subordinate to the rethinking of timeless melodies, all written by others, including classical giant Carl Neilsen. Lyricists are named, but no vocalist sings. Inclusion of the lyrics might enhance listeners' enjoyment of these amiably resonant albeit hazy and somber tone poems.
On this jolly date, Tin Pan Aliens play straight trio - sax, bass, drums - and mix it up equally whether taking the lead or contributing tunes or finding new grooves to put in their pockets. Tart tone and tight turn-arounds (and analog-primitive sound) flow the sap and momentum of 1957 Rollins/Pettiford/Roach. Bassist Steve Swallow, sly and limber, plays taut to keep bandmates thinking basically young. His "Willow , a lissome waltz (from his Real Book, 1993), may be the date's hoary classic. A happy calypso has composer Jonas Johansen slapping pandeiro, Swallow snapping treble lines and tenor saxophonist Hans Ulrik slapping his #5 Rico. Speed-up tempos, bait-and-switch rhythm patterns, quick-as-a-bunny compressed melodic lines (Swallow's "Nuts! ) make us pant for less - from normal earthlings. It's fun, funny, utterly unpredictable and wholly swinging.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Historier fra Græsplænen 1; In House Invention; Greatest Hit; Umlaut Urlaub 1; J's Ladder; Hush; Elephants; Umlaut Urlaub 3; Domestic Tourist; Historier fra Græsplænen 2; Umlaut Urlaub 2; Wurli
Personnel: Jesper Løvdal: sax, clarinet, flute; Mark Solborg: guitar; Anders Provis: drums.
Tracks: Den blå anemone; Sænk kun dit hoved; Du danske sommer; Det lysner over agres felt; Sensommersang; Sig nærmer tiden; Der er ingenting i verden så stille som sne; Sneflokke kommer vrimlende; Det er idag et vejr; Danmark, nu blunder den lyse nat; Nu er jord og himmel stille
Personnel: Jacob Anderskov: piano; Anders Mogensen: drums; Peter Ole Jørgensen: drums (except on #5); Henriette Groth: clarinet; Jonas Müller: trumpet, cornet; Laura Toxværd: alto sax; Anders Banke: clarinet, bassclarinet, alto sax; Ned Ferm: tenor sax, clarinet; Peter Dahlgren: trombone; Nils Davidsen: bass.
Tin Pan Aliens
Tracks: Mosse; Willow; Beeps; It Will All Get Better; Sleeping Mistakes; Soup!; Nuts!; Beams; Done; Beads; Euripides' Pants; Father
Personnel: Hans Ulrik: sax; Steve Swallow: bass; Jonas Johansen: drums.