Petter Wettre's A Music Supreme

Mark Corroto By

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Can Norwegian tenor saxophonist Petter Wettre be called "the Branford Marsalis of Scandinavia?" Both saxophonists favor a big sound, steeped in tradition but not beholden to convention. Wettre was educated at Boston's Berklee College of Music before returning to his home and eventually founding Household Records, the primary vehicle for his output. His tastes run from post-bop to funk to free jazz. What is special about Wettre is his command of not only his saxophone, but each situation in which he applies his craft. Be it an improvised quartet or fronting an entire orchestra, his "sound" stands out with clarity and a sense of purpose that bespeaks his passion and leadership in jazz.

Petter Wettre
Fountain Of Youth
Household Records

Wettre's four part suite on life opens with "Discovery" and drummer Anders Mogensen's two and a half minute drum solo, demonstrating the power and vitality of youth. When the saxophonist steps in, the music, now in full flight has the oh, so very slight hint of another saxophonist's suite to life, John Coltrane's A Love Supreme (Impulse!, 1965). Maybe that feeling comes from the presence of pianist Erland Slettevoll. Slettevoll recorded with Wettre on his first disc in the early 1990s and is a member of The Core, a late 1960s-rooted Coltrane band. The comparison to Coltrane remains, as Wettre expands the gambit with this band. Like Coltrane's "Psalm," Wettre's "Understanding" takes in all that is mystical, sacred and hopefully transcendent about this experience called life. The saxophonist delivers his finest composed performance to date here.

Born in 1967, the year John Coltrane passed away, Wettre carries a very heavy torch here, and with great success.

Petter Wettre
Appetite For Structure
Household Records

Wettre's working trio of bassist Anders Johannesen and drummer Anders Mogensen is augmented here for a studio date with guitarist Kim Johannesen in 2007. The benefits of having a 12 year association with this trio allows for tight, almost telepathic music making. By opening their triangle to a new player, the trio stretches in new directions. The twenty-something guitarist plays note-for-note with Wettre's bass clarinet on "Dr. Livingstone I Presume" before the pair break into trading the odd solo. The ghostly sound Wettre conjures from the bass clarinet is contrasted by the clarity of Johannesen. On "All Dressed Up" a swinging trading of licks calls to mind the saxophone/guitar Joe Lovano/John Scofield albums of the late 1980s/early 1990s. The uplifting moments of "Take It Away, But Bring It Back" are contrasted by the showering heaviness of "Trailerpark Blues" that threatens constantly to break out into a rock song.

Petter Wettre & The Norwegian Radio Orchestra
Fountain Of Youth Live!
Household Records

Wettre's quartet reprises their performance of his four-part "Fountain Of Youth" suite together with the 52- piece Norwegian Broadcasting Orchestra live at Kongsberg jazzfestival in Norway in 2008. The majesty of Wettre's piece, like that of Coltrane's A Love Supreme, is given a royal treatment here with the deft conducting of Django Bates. The music is presented both as a CD and a DVD concert film, and equipped as the film crew were with enough cameras, the concert makes for interesting viewing. Besides the suite, it covers four additional tracks. The quartet sticks to script for the duration here, opting for lavishness over freedom.

The DVD adds a 41-minute behind the scenes segment probably better appreciated by Norwegian speakers.

Tracks and Personnel

Fountain Of Youth

Tracks: Discovering; Absorbing; Experiencing; Understanding.

Personnel: Petter Wettre: tenor saxophone; Erland Slettevoll: piano; Jonas Westergaard: bass; Anders Mogensen: drums.

Appetite For Structure

Tracks: Trailerpark Blues; The One That Got Away; Trophy Wife; Dr. Livingston I Presume; All Dressed Up; Take It Away, But Bring It Back; Tailwind.

Personnel: Petter Wettre: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Kim Johannesen: guitar; Anders Christensen: bass; Anders Mogensen: drums.

Fountain Of Youth Live!

Tracks: CD/DVD: I'm Lucy; Primary; Lifeguard On Duty; Omnipresent; Discovering; Absorbing; Experiencing; Understanding. DVD only: concert plus a behind the scenes documentary.

Personnel: Petter Wettre: tenor saxophone; Erland Slettevoll: piano; Jonas Westergaard: bass; Anders Mogensen: drums; The Norwegian Broadcasting Orchestra.

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