Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers 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!

424

The Core: Office Essentials

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Those believing the Norwegian scene is all about Nordic Cool and electro-centric improv might change their minds after hearing The Core's Office Essentials. Owing as much to John Coltrane's classic mid-1960s quartet as it does the closer-to-home Jan Garbarek/Bobo Stenson Quartet of the 1970s, The Core is as far from cool as you can get; delivering some of the hottest music to come out of Norway since early Garbarek albums like Afric Pepperbird (ECM, 1970) and Sart (ECM, 1971). But make no mistake: The Core may reference things past, but its sound is unequivocally contemporary.

Perhaps surprisingly, three of Office Essentials' six tunes are written by drummer Espen Aalberg, but it's saxophonist Kjetil Moster's "Bolero" which opens the disc with a folkloric melody reminiscent of Garbarek/Stenson's Dansere (ECM, 1976). But equally, this simple, repeated melody is nothing but a set-up for Moster's full-out assault, a combination of Garbarek's ascerbic tone, Coltrane's spirituality and Pharoah Sanders visceral screams. But unlike Saunders and Coltrane, one of Moster's greatest strengths is how, whatever extremes he reaches for, the song's spare theme is never too far from the surface. Similar to Bill Frisell but far more aggressive, Moster knows how to exploit and explore a melody for all it's worth. Dynamics are key too, as pianist Erlend Slettevoll and bassist Steinar Raknes work tightly yet fluidly with Aalberg to create an ebb and flow that's in perfect synch with Moster.

Raknes' "Brooklyn Serenade" is a classic post-Coltrane tune—again based around a very simple premise—that features, in addition to Moster's Ayler-esque howls and dense tone, a piano solo from Slettevoll rooted in McCoy Tyner but filtered liberally through Richie Beirach and early Stenson. Were Aalberg to be channeling more Elvin Jones than he does, Office Essentials might sound too reverential. Instead, Aalberg's a loose and elastic player, responding to the occasionally evolving maelstrom around him, and he's equally powerful at propelling a strong groove that's less triplet-based than the late ex-Coltrane drummer.

One concern from an attendee of the JazzNorway in a Nutshell 2008 was that emerging Norwegian players not forget the tradition that remains a foundation for their music, no matter how far from that tradition they might get. He needn't worry, however, with Aalberg's fiery "Song for Eive" swinging mightily, another modal piece where Moster delivers his most powerful yet focused solo of the set. Less concerned with melody, Moster's harsh attack and free-thinking approach is intensely exciting, made all the more innervating by the support of his band mates.

The collective improv "Free-Bird" is as powerful as The Core gets, with a simpatico underscoring these six minutes of reckless abandon. Aalberg's "The Shadow," on the other hand, is the closest the group gets to relaxed, though an unshakable intensity simmers underneath, even as Moster switches from tenor to soprano for a lighter sound.

Its roots may be clear, but the energy and flat-out commitment of The Core makes Office Essentials a truly, well, essential album.

Track Listing: Bolero; Brooklyn Serenade; Song for Eive; Free-Bird; The Shadow; New Thing.

Personnel: Kjetil Moster: saxophones; Erlend Slettevoll: piano; Steinar Raknes: bass; Espen Aalberg: drums.

Title: Office Essentials | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Jazzland Recordings

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Flaneur CD/LP/Track Review Flaneur
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: January 16, 2018
Read D'Agala CD/LP/Track Review D'Agala
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 16, 2018
Read Vertical CD/LP/Track Review Vertical
by Don Phipps
Published: January 16, 2018
Read In Stride CD/LP/Track Review In Stride
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 16, 2018
Read Solid Gold CD/LP/Track Review Solid Gold
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 15, 2018
Read Ts'iibil Chaaltun CD/LP/Track Review Ts'iibil Chaaltun
by Don Phipps
Published: January 15, 2018
Read "Last Dream of the Morning" CD/LP/Track Review Last Dream of the Morning
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 28, 2017
Read "Nahnou Houm" CD/LP/Track Review Nahnou Houm
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 28, 2017
Read "Blooming Tall Phlox" CD/LP/Track Review Blooming Tall Phlox
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 23, 2017
Read "The Look Of Love: Songs Of The Sixties" CD/LP/Track Review The Look Of Love: Songs Of The Sixties
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: June 4, 2017
Read "Small Town" CD/LP/Track Review Small Town
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: August 4, 2017
Read "The Late Trane" CD/LP/Track Review The Late Trane
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 27, 2017