The Danish jazz scene is very alive and eclectic as shown by Origin, composer and guitarist Morten Kargaard's beautiful album that defies all attempts at attaching a label.
The question, "What is jazz?" is not answered within the album's musical universe and for that matter, neither is the even wider notion of "creative improvised music."
Kargaard composed and arranged all of the music for septet with a very interesting instrumentation besides his acoustic guitar: oboe, English horn (Mette Termansen), trumpet, flugelhorn (Flemming Agerskov), violin (Peter Clemson Steensgaard), viola (Jakup Lutzen), cello (Samira Dayyani), bass (Lars Johnsen).
At first glance, and even from the opening of the first track "The Sad Toreros," one would get the impression that Kargaard's music belongs in the classical realm. However, as the music progresses, and the lilting swing (often propelled by the bass) appears, any notion or feeling of musical control emanating from the written notes disappears.
This music is fascinating in that it is clearly under control, but the feeling of improvisation freedom is never far away. Agerskov's lines in particular have the feeling of floating around any strict beat, and yet they never break away from the underlying texture.
Kargaard is a master of creating musical colors, and mixes the instruments in many different ways, while also creating differing small groups which are brought out front of the background texture of the moment.
Emotionally, the music is restrained and even a bit cool, and yet the colors and imagery evoked are vibrant, even intense -the natural world and its beauty is never far away.
Much of this music is beautiful and soothing; it seems as each player either was chosen for, or works at, creating sounds with rounded edges, and how they interact has clearly been thought out and planned. The effect is one of envelopment like that of a summer breeze or the rays of the afternoon sun when lying in a field of wild flowers. Nothing is missing, and anything added would be unnecessary.
Sometimes, one's soul needs to know all is well, and Origin does that very thing quite effectively.
The Sad Toreros; Homeland; Rising; Butterflies; Utah; White; Go West;
Mette Termansen: oboe, English horn; Flemming Agerskov: trumpet,
flugelhorn; Peter Clemson Steengaard: violin; Jakup Lutzen: viola;
Samira Dayyani: cello; Morten Kargaard: guitar; Lars Johnsen: bass.
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