Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

450

Dag Arnesen: Norwegian Song 2

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
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.

Title: Norwegian Song 2 | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Resonant Music


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Bad Hombre CD/LP/Track Review Bad Hombre
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Aladdin's Dream CD/LP/Track Review Aladdin's Dream
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Glow of Benares CD/LP/Track Review Glow of Benares
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Magic Circle CD/LP/Track Review Magic Circle
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: December 12, 2017
Read A Gathering Foretold CD/LP/Track Review A Gathering Foretold
by Geannine Reid
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Swinging In The Holidays CD/LP/Track Review Swinging In The Holidays
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 11, 2017
Read "Fly Or Die" CD/LP/Track Review Fly Or Die
by John Sharpe
Published: July 10, 2017
Read "Legacy: Neil Slater at North Texas" CD/LP/Track Review Legacy: Neil Slater at North Texas
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 30, 2017
Read "Friendly Ghosts" CD/LP/Track Review Friendly Ghosts
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 1, 2017
Read "Forest Grove" CD/LP/Track Review Forest Grove
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 6, 2017
Read "Iberica" CD/LP/Track Review Iberica
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 8, 2017
Read "Lantern" CD/LP/Track Review Lantern
by John Kelman
Published: June 26, 2017

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!