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Motif: My Head is Listening

Glenn Astarita By

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This Scandinavian band lives by its moniker. Indeed, most of these works are framed on a sequence of primary motifs, mini- motifs and sub-motifs, interspersed with knockdown, drag-out cadenzas that span free jazz, semi-free jazz, modern jazz and so on. At times this collective seems to thrive on nervous energy amid a surfeit of highs, lows and briskly executed reverse- engineering parameters. They go from one extreme to another, whether it's dainty horns and piano etudes to moments of quietude or when the horns section lashes into a series of complex unison runs, dappled with brash outpourings.

The septet will periodically lull you into a low-key mood then treat you to a volcanic eruption with a conglomeration of knotty twists and turns, but on "Little Cage," pianist Håvard Wiik delves into minimalist territory. However, "Ballroom Glitch" segues into a thorny horns groove, anchored by bassist Ole Morten Vågan's elastic lines, supporting a linear romp that works its way from the top down. Here, Wiik surges into an extended solo spot with flailing arpeggios atop fervent undercurrents and bold horns statements as the band ventures into a fractured outlook via wily and assertive choruses.

The ensemble is not short on ideas yet stitches these motifs into cohesive musical statements topped off with an ever-present element of surprise. Moreover, "The Guns of Amarone, Episodes 1 & 2" commences with slippery crescendos; a barrelhouse blues groove, and jaunty passages that intersect through various storylines, along with Håkon Mjåset Johansen's sweeping solo and trumpeter Eivind Lønning's twirling montages. Moving forward, they gel to a pulsating Latin vamp, augmented by the hornists' boisterous dialogues towards closeout. Hence, six active minds on a rampage migrate the jazz vernacular into an action-packed audio thriller.

Track Listing: My Head Is Listening; Beams, Dreams And Automobiles; Little Cage; Ich Bin Ein Belieber; Ballroom Glitch; The Guns Of Amarone, Episodes 1&2; Lontano Sea.

Personnel: Eivind Lønning: trumpet; Atle Nymo: tenor saxophone and bass clarinet; Michael Thieke: clarinet; Håvard Wiik: piano; Håkon Mjåset Johansen: drums; Ole Morten Vågan: double bass.

Title: My Head is Listening | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Clean Feed Records

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