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Fire! Orchestra: Arrival

Read "Arrival" reviewed by Gareth Thompson

The ancient Zen art of decluttering has found modern favour as a mindful practice. Letting go of things is, perhaps, a way of breaking with the past. In the years since its inception, the Nordic big band Fire! Orchestra has jettisoned about half its original cast. Now down to a mere fourteen members, the outfit has accordingly made its most spacious album yet. The core trio of musical director / saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, bassist Johan Berthling and drummer ...

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Fire!: The Hands

Read "The Hands" reviewed by Sammy Stein

Rune Grammofon unleashed something special with the great music it has released over the past 20 years, and with The Hands it has surpassed itself. The Fire! trio, which consists of reedman Mats Gustafsson, bassist Johan Berthling and drummer Andreas Werlin, makes music which defies labels and classification. Now, going into a resting phase after ten years of making great music together, Fire! remains a force in jazz. Anything with Mats Gustafsson at the helm is likely to contain music ...

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Arve Henriksen: The Height of the Reeds

Read "The Height of the Reeds" reviewed by John Eyles

For the year 2017, Hull, a northern port on the east coast of England, was selected as the UK City of Culture. This led to the city commissioning or organising a series of artistic and cultural events throughout the year. One such event was the commissioned work “The Height of the Reeds" which celebrated the long seafaring relationship between Hull and Scandinavia. Composed by the Norwegians Arve Henriksen, Eivind Aarset and Jan Bang, for three months from April ...

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Espen Eriksen Trio with Andy Sheppard: Perfectly Unhappy

Read "Perfectly Unhappy" reviewed by John Eyles

The Norwegian Espen Eriksen Trio was formed in 2007 and its personnel has remained unchanged ever since, across three previous album releases on Rune Grammofon. Such stability has allowed pianist Espen Eriksen, bassist Lars Tormod Jenset and drummer Andreas Bye to bond together and develop the particular chemistry that a successful trio needs, without having to resort to gimmicks or trickery to get their music noticed. Primarily based upon Eriksen's own compositions, that music has a rich sense of melody ...

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Espen Eriksen Trio With Andy Sheppard: Perfectly Unhappy

Read "Perfectly Unhappy" reviewed by Gareth Thompson

Primo Levi wrote that perfect happiness and perfect unhappiness are both beyond reach. For this he blamed our human condition, which is opposed to everything infinite. Maybe this album's title is also a comment on our hope and despair through life's journey. Not within the realm of Levi's suffering, of course, but in our common role as sentient beings. Those of us for whom music is a great solace should thus revere the union of Espen Eriksen and ...

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Fire!: The Hands

Read "The Hands" reviewed by John Eyles

There are reasons to consider the 2018 release of The Hands as an important one for Fire! It was in 2008 that saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, bassist Johan Berthling and drummer Andreas Werlin first came together as a trio with the idea of a fresh approach to improvised music. Given the groups that the three were in at the time--Gustafsson in The Thing and others, Werlin in Wildbirds and Peacedrums, and Berthling in Angles--it was all too easy for Fire! to ...

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Kjetil Mulelid Trio: Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House

Read "Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House" reviewed by Mark Sullivan

Norwegian pianist/composer Kjetil Mulelid leads his young trio in a program with a maturity that contradicts their age. Their music is lyrical and exploratory, with a high degree of group interaction, and even a bit of free playing. Opener “Entrance" finds them moving together through the rhythmic waves. “Fly, Fly" begins with Mulelid in a slightly gospel mood, followed by a brief lyrical unaccompanied piano solo which gives way to a rubato feel, so loose that it almost feels free—the ...

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Arve Henriksen: Towards Language

Read "Towards Language" reviewed by John Eyles

Following hot on the heels of Rimur (ECM, 2017), Towards Language is Arve Henriksen's second album of 2017 and brings his tally of releases to ten in the past five years. One of the more remarkable things about Henriksen is that even though the quantity of releases increases, their quality remains as high as ever. All of the hallmarks that make his music distinctive are still in place, as good as ever--the haunting melodies, soaring falsetto vocals and exquisitely beautiful ...

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Fire!: She Sleeps, She Sleeps

Read "She Sleeps, She Sleeps" reviewed by John Eyles

She Sleeps, She Sleeps is the fifth album release from Fire! (yes, that exclamation mark is an integral part of the name), the Swedish supergroup trio of saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, bassist Johan Berthling and drummer Andreas Werliin. It sees the three return to duty as a trio following the distraction of recording and touring with the Fire! Orchestra, with its membership of about thirty. Away from the orchestra, past Fire! albums have seen the trio collaborating with other musicians such ...

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Supersilent: 12

Read "12" reviewed by John Eyles

There is a widely-used saying about London's famous red buses, “You wait ages for one, and then three turn up at once..." Back in the autumn of 2010, it seemed as if it could equally well apply to Supersilent releases. After the quartet's first four albums were all released in 1997-8 (1-3 as a triple, then 4 on its own), by 2009 only four more (plus the DVD 7) had been released since the turn of the millennium, usually with ...

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Arve Henriksen: Arve Henriksen: The Nature of Connections

Read "Arve Henriksen: The Nature of Connections" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

There are musicians who defy compartmentalization based on ever shifting interests and styles. Fewer are those like trumpeter Arve Henriksen whose organic nature precludes musical definition. Throughout his career as a leader on the Rune Grammofon label, he has created collections that seem bound together only by his presence. The delicate Asian influences of Sakuteiki (2001), the electronics of Strjon (2007) and the poetically haunting Places of Worship (2013) bear little resemblance to each other save the sometimes intangibly recognizable ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Arve Henriksen: The Nature of Connections

Read "Arve Henriksen: The Nature of Connections" reviewed by John Kelman

Few artists could call an album The Nature of Connections with as much veracity as Norwegian trumpeter Arve Henriksen. There's been the myriad of collaborations on his own albums--just a small handful of the contributors to recordings including Places of Worship (Rune Grammofon, 2013), Cartography (ECM, 2008), Strjon (Rune Grammofon, 2007) and Chiaroscuro (Rune Grammofon, 2004) including producers/Punkt Festival co-directors Jan Bang and Erik Honoré; bassist Lars Danielsson; drummer Audun Kleive; Supersilent mates, keyboardist Ståle Storløkken and guitarist Helge Sten; ...