210

Trygve Seim / Andreas Utnem: Purcor: Songs for Saxophone and Piano

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Trygve Seim / Andreas Utnem: Purcor: Songs for Saxophone and Piano
Since emerging on the label with his own large ensemble and as part of the collaborative, more improv-heavy group The Source, saxophonist Trygve Seim has been a leading voice in the second wave of Norwegian artists who look to legacy ECM musicians like Jan Garbarek, Arild Andersen and Terje Rypdal as touchstones, but possess unmistakable voices of their own. Albums like the superb Sangam (2005) spotlighted Seim's distinctive compositional approach, taking the unorthodox instrumentation of Edward Vesala (with whom Seim collaborated) as a starting point, but intentionally avoiding the more chaotic turns of recordings like the late Finnish drummer's overlooked gem, Lumi (ECM, 1987). Contrasting Sangam's emphasis on composition over improvisation, The Source (2006) showed Seim to be a thoughtful and careful improviser, one as concerned with the timbral purity of every note as he is the actual note itself.

Like Seim's last recording, 2008's Yeraz, which teamed the intently focused saxophonist with intrepid Norwegian accordionist Frode Haltli, Purcor: Songs for Saxophone and Piano is an intimate duo recording, this time with pianist Andreas Utnem. Utnem is a relatively fresh face on the Norwegian scene, for whom neoclassicist Ketil Bjornstad (another ECM artist), is a clear marker. Despite speaking clearly of Seim and Utnem's shared identity, there's at least a superficial suggestion, here, as to how a meeting between Garbarek and Bjørnstad might sound, though there's always been something slightly warmer, and less pungent about Seim's tone, especially in the lower register of his tenor.

That Purcor was recorded at an Oslo church, rather than a recording studio, makes perfect sense: the recital-like and deeply spiritual nature of this collection of deceptively simple originals, traditional tunes and improvisations benefits from a third member to the group: the sound of the church, itself. The resonance of certain notes, in particular, speaks to the personality of the room—an all-too-often lost aspect of today's DIY approach to home studio recording that's always been anathema to ECM's overarching aesthetic.

Utnem's spare, lyrical writing possesses some of the understated majesty of a composer like Erik Satie, especially on songs like "Credo," but there's a religious sensitivity here that's antithetical to the atheist, humanist Frenchman. Seim only contributes two tunes, but in their somber, almost meditative nature, they represent a logical evolution: "Responsorium," of Sangam's "Prayer"; and "Bhavana," of Different Rivers' sublime highlight, "Breathe."

Seim may specifically eschew overt improvisation—at least, the kind of muscular, testosterone-filled pyrotechnics favored by some—but on Purcor's three spontaneously created tracks, he proves, along with Utnem, to be a remarkable drawer of song from ether. Both "Præludium" and "Gloria" are Purcor's brightest, most fervently optimistic tracks, while the mournful "Postludium"—one of two tracks where Utnem switches to harmonium—ebbs and flows with understated power...surprising, given its harmonic stasis.

All three prove Seim and Utnem to be improvisers more interested in the end than the means, a general modus operandi of the alluring Purcor. Soft and nuanced, with nary a dissonance to be found, it's one of ECM's most consistently beautiful records in years.

Track Listing

Kyrie; Nu Seglar Vi Inn; Præludium, Improvisation; Purcor; Responsorium; Credo; Pater Noster; Bhavana; Glora, Improvisation; Soirenning; 312; Agnus Dei; Postludium, Improvisation; Når Mitt Øye Trett Av Møye.

Personnel

Trygve Seim: tenor and soprano saxophones; Andreas Utnem: piano, harmonium.

Album information

Title: Purcor: Songs for Saxophone and Piano | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: ECM Records

Post a comment about this album

Watch

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Read Data Lords
Data Lords
Maria Schneider Orchestra
Read Sleepy Town
Sleepy Town
Jamie Pregnell
Read Momento
Momento
Dave Milligan
Read Peace
Peace
Spirit Fingers
Read Warmer Than Blood
Warmer Than Blood
Chris Montague
Read Off Brand
Off Brand
Collage Project
Read Expanding Light
Expanding Light
Whit Dickey Trio
Read Iron Starlet
Iron Starlet
Connie Han

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.