Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Motif: My Head Is Listening

7

Motif: My Head Is Listening

By

Sign in to view read count
Motif: My Head Is Listening
Formed in 1998, Norwegian sextet Motif celebrates its sixth release with My Head Is Listening and its second on Clean Feed following Art Transplant (2011). Bassist Ole Morten Vågan, who co-founded the outfit with reedman Atle Nymo, is once again responsible for all seven compositions. As well as Motif, he boasts some heavyweight credits with Joshua Redman, Chick Corea and Kris Davis, and testament to his organizational skills, has also been appointed Artistic Director of the renowned Trondheim Jazz Orchestra until 2019. Vågan possesses a restless imagination, and nothing stays quite as it seems in his inventive post-bop constructs, which typically spool through a variety of moods, peppered by adventurous outpourings.

In an accomplished cast pianist Håvard Wiik, best known for his similar role in Scandinavian supergroup Atomic, stands out both for his exploratory expositions and raw-boned comping. On tenor and bass clarinet, Nymo contributes distinctive textures, mixing straight-ahead and strangled sonorities in singular flow, while on trumpet Eivind Lønning evokes Freddie Hubbard with his fast rapid-fire flourishes, but tempers that impression with liquid phrases and growls. Clarinetist Michael Thieke constitutes a new addition, thickening the dense ensembles and alternately pastel-shaded and astringent in the spotlight.

Vågan himself remains largely out of the limelight, but meshes well with drummer Håkon Mjaset Johansen to set up the flexibility needed for moving from the charts into free improv sounding exchanges. That's certainly an asset for the title track as it lurches in and out of focus, with first of all a series of fanfares separated by looser ad lib type exclamations, then a disorientating switch to a ballad feel, supplanted by a roiling rhythm churn, and then a sparse section for bucolic clarinet and isolated keystrokes, not to mention making space for a juddering tenor saxophone statement from Nymo.

Elsewhere Vågan calls on a Braxtonian wit in the writing and execution of "Beams, Dreams and Automobiles," in which darting interlocking lines congeal into a unison which goes out of sync to launch squealing clarinet. There's more asymmetrical contours on "Ballroom Glitch" which showcases Wiik, who sounds initially conventional, until his rapidly uncoiling runs spill over the notional bar divides like a madcap player piano.

"The Guns Of Amarone, Episodes 1 & 2" plays more to the tradition, with hot jazz excitement spiced by drum fills and horn trills, but still allowing Johansen to solo twice, as well as more controlled overblowing from Nymo and some vocalized trumpet gusts from Lønning, before finally returning to big band tropes vaguely reminiscent of the "Batman Theme." Like all the music here, the detail proves tremendous, but somehow it just doesn't quite gel into an engaging overall statement.

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

Motif
 

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

Album information

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


Next >
Passin' Thru

Comments

Tags


For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

More

September Night
Tomasz Stańko
A Different Light
Carl Clements
Cubop Lives!
Zaccai Curtis
Beautiful Moons Ago
The Gabrielle Stravelli Trio

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.