Anne Mette Iversen Quartet + 1: Racing a Butterfly

Friedrich Kunzmann BY

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Anne Mette Iversen Quartet + 1: Racing a Butterfly
A working collective since 2002, Anne Mette Iversen's quartet—saxophonist John Ellis, pianist Danny Grissett, drummer Otis Brown III and Iversen herself on bass—has developed a unique musical language, which transcends typical stigmas of the genre and demonstrates a special sense of light-footedness in navigating through the different bars and meters, all the while evading the self-indulgent. Augmented to a quintet with the addition of trombonist Peter Dahlgren, Racing A Butterfly sees Iverson building on concepts introduced on past outings Milo Songs (Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records, 2011) and Ternion Quartet release Invincible Nimbus (Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records, 2019), but invites an extra dash of flow to the set, allowing the music to breathe more freely and drift more smoothly than before.

"Running along the lavender fields on a dirt road, while the temperature was quickly rising, a colorful butterfly came out of the wild flowers that grow on the roadside, having apparently decided to keep me company. We stayed side by side for a moment and then it started to play. It flew ahead, dropped back, caught up with me again, spun circles, twisted and turned in a kind of a dance." These are the words with which Iversen describes the event that inspired this album. With that picture in mind, the whimsical swirling and twirling of melodies and rhythms on opener "Triangular Waves" cast the listener right into the middle of Provence in southern France, where Iverson had decided to chase that butterfly (or vice versa?). The intricate layers of syncopation spread across the instruments sway to a mesmerizing effect rather than one that provokes the mind, figuratively channelling the virtuoso motions found in nature's most colorful creatures. This unparalleled ability, to make complex formations and structures sound like a walk in the park, is prominent throughout each measure of the album.

Iversen's agile bass foundation is aptly complemented by Brown's proficient drumming, which varies from technical overdrive to straight-ahead swinging sections with remarkable ease. Trombone and saxophone are in perfect balance, in regard to their complementing tones as well as their contrasting phraseology. With punch and determined force on "Triangular Waves," cool and laid-back on the title track, then swift and nimble on "Parallel Flying," the two melodic leaders are constantly in conversation with each other, though not in comfortable synchronicity. Instead they search for something original and meaningful to say, adding more contrast to the story. Opening the title track with polyrhythmic design, sax and trombone play beside the main time, each in their own, and lead the quintet into a playful tune which constantly alternates between normal and half-time sections in five. Dahlgren's tasteful trombone lines are superseded by a cheerful Danny Grissett, whose lush piano playing is a welcome companion from start to finish.

Like any good jazz record, the album lives off the band's terrific interplay, which exhibits the perfect mix of focus and spontaneity. Sequences of composed harmonic embellishments appointed to brass and sax add a finishing touch to meticulously wrought themes and pull the musicians coherently together. In a discography informed by more than a handful of accomplished albums and exciting experiments, Iverson has managed to outdo herself and presents one of her most inspired and focused recordings to date.

Track Listing

Triangular Waves; Racing a Butterfly; Parallel Flying Part 1; Parallel Flying Part 2; Butterfly Interlude; Dancing Butterflies; Cluster; Reworking of a Butterfly; Butterflies Too.


Anne Mette Iversen: bass; John Ellis: saxophone, tenor; Danny Grissett: piano; Peter Dahlgren: trombone; Otis Brown III: drums.

Album information

Title: Racing a Butterfly | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Bjurecords

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