All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

277

Frode Haltli: Passing Images

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Abandoning the contemporary classicism of Looking on Darkness (ECM, 2002), Norwegian accordionist Frode Haltli's Passing Images looks, instead, to traditional Norwegian music for its inspiration. But Haltli, like accordionists Pascal Contet and Guy Klucevsek, stretches the boundaries of his instrument's capabilities—rarely takes things literally. His unfettered musical aesthetic, and the players that he's chosen to work with—trumpeter Arve Henrkisen, violist Garth Knox and singer Maja Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje—make this collection of traditional tunes, original music and free improvisation a lesson in the broadest potential of interpretation.

Haltli finds beauty and darkness, strong melody and rich abstraction—often within the same piece. He begins "Psalm" alone, gradually finding his way from impressionist texture to its paradoxically melancholy and optimistic theme. Henriksen, Ratkje and Knox enter subtly at the half-way mark, shakuhachi-like trumpet and voice orbiting around the theme, with Haltli expanding the dynamics until Knox signals the end with a warm return to its haunting melody.

While most pieces explore the dichotomy of less-than-expected contexts for these largely singable melodies, they still manage to remain true to their essence. Knox and Henriksen circle around each other on Haltli's folkloric "The Letter," making it all the more beautiful when they coalesce over Haltli's gentle, ebb-and-flow rhythm. Dissolving into spare atmospherics; Ratkje's soft melody move in and out of a gradually fading etherealness.

The brief "Inter" and "Lude" are free improvisations that provide a jagged sonic contrast to the richer textures around them. Like Sidsel Endresen's One (Sofa, 2006), Ratkje expands the aural potential of her instrument, moving from the gutturally percussive to high frequency squeals. Still, on the majestic closer, "Vals," she meshes with Henriksen, the two truly speaking with a single voice.

The sheer musicality and emotional breadth of Passing Images—an apt title for its uncannily visual experience—makes the impressive talents of the quartet almost verboten to mention. Still, it's the elasticity that each member brings to his/her instrument that allows these interpretations such bold expansiveness. Henriksen's ability to acoustically morph the tone of his trumpet has defined his own albums, including Strjon (Rune Grammofin, 2007). No artificial device, instead it's a natural extension that allows him to blend seamlessly, at different times, with different instruments to create a new and unique whole, while Haltli's uncanny capability to bend the notes of his accordion allows for microtonal interactions with Knox on the dramatic "Lyrisk vals," and ventures into upper registers that would seem impossible to reach on Ratkje's title track.

Passing Images may not be an easy listen—there's too much dissonance mixed with harmonious melodism. But its scopic resonance makes for a deeply rewarding experience that continues to reveal more with every listen.


Track Listing: Psalm; Inter; The Letter; Lude; Vandring; Pre; Jag haver ingen k?rare; Lyrisk vals; Passing Images; Vals.

Personnel: Frode Haltli: accordion; Arve Henriksen: trumpet; Garth Knox: viola; Maja Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje: voice.

Title: Passing Images | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: ECM Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Yeraz

Yeraz

ECM Records
2008

buy
Passing Images

Passing Images

ECM Records
2007

buy

Related Articles

Read A New Beginning CD/LP/Track Review
A New Beginning
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 23, 2018
Read Onyx Noir - Jazz Works For Brass Quintet CD/LP/Track Review
Onyx Noir - Jazz Works For Brass Quintet
by Gareth Thompson
Published: June 23, 2018
Read Triad CD/LP/Track Review
Triad
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 23, 2018
Read Sketches of American Music CD/LP/Track Review
Sketches of American Music
by Doug Collette
Published: June 23, 2018
Read Three Pictures CD/LP/Track Review
Three Pictures
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: June 23, 2018
Read Alive In The East? CD/LP/Track Review
Alive In The East?
by Chris May
Published: June 22, 2018
Read "First Light" CD/LP/Track Review First Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 18, 2017
Read "No Mundo Dos Sons" CD/LP/Track Review No Mundo Dos Sons
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: October 12, 2017
Read "Gentle Giants" CD/LP/Track Review Gentle Giants
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 29, 2017
Read "Romaria" CD/LP/Track Review Romaria
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 18, 2018
Read "Jazz Triangle 65-77" CD/LP/Track Review Jazz Triangle 65-77
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 20, 2017
Read "Sculptures" CD/LP/Track Review Sculptures
by Patrick Burnette
Published: March 2, 2018