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Kjetil Møster: Ran Do

Mark Corroto By

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More than in any other American jazz scene, the musicians of Chicago have embraced and continue to embrace their colleagues in Europe and the UK. In the 1990s the Chicagoan Ken Vandermark began a long-standing association with Mats Gustafsson (Sweden) and Peter Brötzmann (Germany). And Hamid Drake has been crisscrossing the Atlantic for ages. These connections seem a natural part of the Windy City's jazz methodology.

That said, this meeting of the Norwegian saxophonist Kjetil Møster and the Chicagoans, guitarist Jeff Parker, bassist Joshua Abrams, and drummer John Herndon comes as no surprise, yet the connections and social intercourse heard on Ran Do appear as if the players are next door neighbors.

Of course for a long time, Parker, Abrams, and Herndon were Chicago residents. The guitarist and drummer are members of Tortoise and multiple ensembles founded in Chicago, including Isotope 217 and those of Rob Mazurek. Abrams' bass has been involved in just about every Chicago experiment of the last 25 years, from David Boykin to Nicole Mitchell. Kjetil Møster is probably best known for his quartet Møster! and the Zanussi Five.

The music is all improvised, yet deftly organized. Opening with "Orko," the grind is ever so slow. Herndon dutifully pushing that boulder up the hill as Parker and Møster dig gnarly footholds. The pace is ceaseless as jagged notes are hammered and Møster's post-Coltrane sound is on display. That same velocity is the signature of this quartet. "Dig Me Out" and "Pajama Jazz" join the march, the latter piece with a darkened swing. The interest increases when the groove breaks down into a more open-ended sound. Bowed bass births rattled cymbals, feedback guitar effects, and fluttered/growled saxophone explorations. The quartet's unabashed vulnerability with their improvising cues the longest piece here, "Anicca." The music opens with an African pulse and Møster carrying the melody and Parker posing some electric Miles lines before the music quiets into abstraction. Abrams solos to set up a quiet empathetic conversation between the players that unwinds into an echoey memory.

Track Listing: Orko; Dig Me Out; Island Life; Anicca; Pajama Jazz.

Personnel: Kjetil Møster: tenor saxophone; Jeff Parker: guitar; Joshua Abrams: double bass; John Herndon: drums.

Title: Ran Do | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Clean Feed Records


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