450

Dag Arnesen: Norwegian Song 2

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Dag Arnesen: Norwegian Song 2 Norwegian pianist Dag Arnesen continues to mine the rich tradition of Norwegian folk and classical music on Norwegian Song 2, the logical follow-up to the acclaimed Norwegian Song (Resonant Music, 2008). While the approach might seem formulaic, it's really no different than American musicians who mine the Great American Songbook. It's all about taking music that's part of their DNA and reworking it for a more open-ended, improvisational context, and that's just what Arnesen, bassist Terje Gewelt and drummer Pål Thowsen do on this collection of 11 songs, largely taken from, for most, unfamiliar but lyrical folk melodies, with two culled from classical composer Edvard Grieg.



"Morgenstemning / Morning Mood," is a painfully beautiful ballad treatment of a familiar theme from Greig's Peer Gynt. Thowsen's delicate cymbals create a dynamic ebb and flow, with Gewelt's robust bass a temporal anchor beneath Arnesen's melodic extrapolations, the trio intuitively sensing just how far to take it without disrupting clear reverence for its source, despite increasing reharmonization over its brief three minutes. Greig's "Med en primula veris (Du vårens milde, skjønne barn) / The First Primrose (O Gentle Maiden, Child of Spring)" may be less iconic, but it's no less memorable, with Arnesen's elegant touch creating a soft cushion bolstered by Thowsen's mallets and Gewelt's harmonically astute bass lines—lines which always support but often act as spare counterpoint to Arnesen's direct melodicism.



While the trio doesn't exactly swing, it's remains firmly planted in the modern mainstream, with rhythmic references to light bossa on the gently swaying "Eg rodde meg ut på seiegrunnnen (Strilevise)," soft, brush-driven groove on "Blåmann, Blåmann" and, on "Dalebu Jonson," a brief but repeated reference to Miles Davis' enduring "All Blues." Still, as much as "Blåmann, Blåmann" possesses a soft contemporary pulse, it also demonstrates Arnesen's ability to, in the subtlest of fashions, pay homage to the innocent roots of this well-known Norwegian children's song.



As with the first disc, Arnesen and his trio approach the music with an economically nuanced approach that, again, draws direct reference to piano Tord Gustavsen's trio and its avoidance of overt virtuosity on albums including Being There (ECM, 2007). But Arnesen has been around considerably longer than Gustavsen, dating back to the early '80s (at least), and so it's possible that he's been a source for Gustavsen's whisper-like approach to group interaction. But while Gustavsen has been gradually expanding his dynamic sphere like a drop of water creating ever-expanding circles in a lake, Arnesen demonstrates greater energy and tempo on the samba-like "Kjerringa med staven / The Old Woman with the Staff."



Irrespective of the trio's approach to individual songs, lyricism and approachability are paramount, making Norwegian Song 2 a fine sequel to Norwegian Song. Good music is where you find it and, when it comes to jazz, should not be limited to the American tradition and its admittedly expansive body of reference material.

Track Listing: Eg rodde meg ut på seiegrunnnen (Strilevise) / The Fisherman's Song; Morgenstemning / Morning Mood; Blåmann, Blåmann; Dalebu Jonson; Dei vil allltid klaga og kyta / The Others May Fuss and May Worry); Kjerringa med staven / The Old Woman with the Staff; Med en primula veris (Du vårens milde, skjønne barn) / The First Primrose (O Gentle Maiden, Child of Spring); Nils Tallefjorden; Den skyldige / The Guilty; Eg gjette Tulla i 15 ar / My Tulla; Mellom bakkar og berg / 'Mong the Rocks by the North Sea's Blue Waters.

Personnel: Dag Arnesen: piano; Terje Gewelt: bass; Pål Thowsen: drums, percussion.

Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Resonant Music | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Welcome to Swingsville! CD/LP/Track Review Welcome to Swingsville!
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 26, 2017
Read Points of View CD/LP/Track Review Points of View
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 26, 2017
Read Migration Blues CD/LP/Track Review Migration Blues
by Chris Mosey
Published: March 26, 2017
Read Recent Developments CD/LP/Track Review Recent Developments
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 26, 2017
Read N.O. Escape CD/LP/Track Review N.O. Escape
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 26, 2017
Read Reflections CD/LP/Track Review Reflections
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 25, 2017
Read "Ena / One" CD/LP/Track Review Ena / One
by Budd Kopman
Published: March 26, 2016
Read "The River" CD/LP/Track Review The River
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 16, 2016
Read "Triadic Episode" CD/LP/Track Review Triadic Episode
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 25, 2016
Read "The Unknown" CD/LP/Track Review The Unknown
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 10, 2016
Read "Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny" CD/LP/Track Review Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 5, 2016
Read "Lowdown Hoedown" CD/LP/Track Review Lowdown Hoedown
by Paul Rauch
Published: January 18, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: DOT TIME RECORDS | BUT IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!