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Jakob Norgren Jazz Orchestra: Pathfinding

Budd Kopman By

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One look into the eyes of composer/reed man Jakob Norgren tells you that he is an extremely purposeful, self- directed and intense person. His music for his Jazz Orchestra reflects these attributes, making Pathfinding quite an aural ride.

Stylistically, this music fits somewhere between Ayn Inserto's story-telling Home Away From Home and John Fedchock's more traditional Like It Is. This is a very tight big band that can swing like crazy ("Serendipity") or blow the roof out (the 4/4 parts of "Pathfinding") with superior soloists taking advantage of sparkling arrangements. However, thrown into the mix is some atmospheric sound painting (the two "Secret Walks" for large sections) that moves Norgren's overall oeuvre out of strict "big-band."

Norgren likes odd meters (and phrase lengths)— "Pathfinding" is in 11/4, "Parade" is in 7/4 and the bass line in "Some Kind Of Dancing" has that delicious odd-length hitch. However, these are not used for mere effect, and sound quite natural.

All of the soloists, especially tenor saxophonist Jonas Kullhammar (who is listed as "featured") are on fire, making the most of the opportunity to get out front.

Of particular interest are the two "Secret Walks." The first begins with a deep blues groove with a monster solo by Kullhammar that is overtaken by sustained notes of the band to lead into the quite different middle section that lopes to and fro until it thins out only to build and intensify; in other words, a sonic story. The second kind of picks up where the first left off, only drop into a spellbinding groove supporting a number of wonderful solos.

Simply put, Norgren's music as played by the band is flat out exciting, continually surprising while maintaining that one-foot-in-the-tradition which makes it easy for anyone to appreciate and groove on.

Track Listing: Pathfinding; Some Kind Of Dancing; Serendipity; Parade; Secret Walks, Part 1; Secret Walks, Part 2.

Personnel: Jakob Norgren, Jonas Kullhammar, Peter Friedman, Lina Lövstrand, Kai Sundquist, Christian Herluf Pedersen: reeds; Fredrik Oscarsson, Jonne Bentlöv, David Ljunggren, Oscar Lindblom: trumpets; Mats Äleklint, Michael Rörby, Johan Åström, Klas Eriksson: trombones; Mathias Lundquist: piano; Lars Ekman: bass; Isak Andersson: drums.

Title: Pathfinding | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Wime Records

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