All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

351

xTet Project: Phase First

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
With the continued upsurge of music coming from Norway, it can be a challenge keeping track of which player is on what axis; equally revealing is the near-relentless cross-pollination taking place amongst artists young and old, and from an unfettered variety of musical spaces. Oslo's Kennel Collective may consist of young groups traversing the seemingly wide chasm between country and free improv, but the ultimate goal of this eight-ensemble collective which includes Splashgirl (whose Doors. Keys. (AIM Records) was one of 2007's best debuts) is remarkably simple: "Making good music with good people." xTet Project, the brainchild of woodwind multi-instrumentalist Lars. H. Kurverud—guest on Doors. Keys. and member of the extended Splashgirl Sextet—is another fine debut, mining similar territory in terms of spatial use and decay, but possessing its own distinct personality.



The link to Splashgirl is further cemented by the participation of that group's primary composer, Andreas S. Løwe, an ambitious young pianist who curated the Punkt Elope series in 2008 and 2009, at Kristiansand's ever-intrepid Punkt Festival, shining a bright spotlight on some of Norway's most intriguing up-and-comers. He's an ideal musical companion for Kurverud; a sensitive player capable of breathing hazy soundscapes—a combination of prepared piano and electronics—onto the abstract and rarefied landscape of "Linje," one of two collective improvs that reach back to saxophonist Jan Garbarek's wind harp-driven Dis (ECM, 1977) as a touchstone. He's also capable, however, of more direct—albeit characteristically spare and delicate—pianism on the melancholy opener, "Intro," one of four tracks that balance Phase First's greater spontaneity with resonant song form.



In addition to a rhythm section featuring bassist Glenn Ph. Nilsen and drummer Gunnar Sæter, xTet is fleshed out to a quintet with guitarist Håvard Skaset. Another fearless yet selfless guitarist who, in addition to employing a variety of by-now conventional unorthodoxies, Skaset simultaneously shifts xTet Project to the west and the east on "Banjari," where his solo banjo intro curiously references American folk concerns but with a touch of Indian linearity, before the group enters with a quirky pulse not far distanced from Bill Frisell's more drily comedic writing, but with a different instrumental focus. Elsewhere, on the ambling "Liamé," Skaset supports Kurverud's long-toned but dynamically ebbing-and-flowing melody with rich, sustaining chords, before turning to a tart, slightly gritty solo that, by moving in, out and around the beat and harmonic center, becomes an unsettled—and unsettling—high point of the 55-minute set.



The combination of fluctuating tempos, volume shifts from a whisper to a roar in a matter of moments, and a sonic approach ranging from spare and direct to ethereal and atmospheric, might make xTet Project's music seem inaccessible. Taken as a whole, however, what's most surprising is that even on tracks like "Iene,"—beginning in Ligeti-like microtonality but, with the entry of Nilsen and Sæter, assuming a distinctly Norwegian approach to temporal elasticity and traditionalism—this deeply cinematic music remains strangely appealing...and undeniably beautiful. Once again, Norway's courageous improv scene delivers another fine group of great nuance, power and profundity.


Track Listing: Intro; Linje; Liamé; Ludosant; Iene; Langsam; Ladies Bird; Pile; Banjari; Svitte; Part II; Part III; Part IV.

Personnel: Lars H. Kurverud: saxophones, flutes, bass clarinet; Håvard Skaset: guitar, banjo; Andreas S. Løwe: piano, electronics; Glenn Ph. Nilsen: bass; Gunnar Sæter: drums, percussion.

Title: Phase First | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Bushbaby Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Phase First

Phase First

Bushbaby Records
2010

buy

Related Articles

Read Origins CD/LP/Track Review
Origins
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Bright Force CD/LP/Track Review
Bright Force
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Say It CD/LP/Track Review
Say It
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Alchemia Garden CD/LP/Track Review
Alchemia Garden
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Don't You Wish CD/LP/Track Review
Don't You Wish
by Dr. Judith Schlesinger
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Making Other Arrangements CD/LP/Track Review
Making Other Arrangements
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 19, 2018
Read "Christmas With Champian" CD/LP/Track Review Christmas With Champian
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 19, 2017
Read "Heaven" CD/LP/Track Review Heaven
by Fiona Ord-Shrimpton
Published: July 3, 2017
Read "Fukushima" CD/LP/Track Review Fukushima
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 1, 2017
Read "Other Animal" CD/LP/Track Review Other Animal
by Troy Dostert
Published: February 7, 2018
Read "Unification" CD/LP/Track Review Unification
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 26, 2017
Read "Unnatural  Events" CD/LP/Track Review Unnatural Events
by Roger Farbey
Published: August 16, 2017