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Jakob Bro: Returnings

Mark Sullivan By

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Danish guitarist Jakob Bro reunites with double bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Jon Christensen—the trio that recorded his ECM debut Gefion (ECM, 2015)—and adds veteran ECM stalwart trumpeter/flugelhornist Palle Mikkelborg to the mix. Usually adding a horn would make a group sound brasher, but most of the time Mikkelborg seems to have brought out Bro's introspective, atmospheric tendencies even more than the trio recordings.

The connection to Gefion is made immediately with the opening track "Oktober," reprised from the earlier album. The performance begins almost the same way, with Bro's guitar sketching out chords, Morgan's bass replying and Christensen supplying light percussive commentary. Mikkelborg's trumpet just intensifies the autumnal hush, keeping things at a simmer. "Lyskaster" is the other reprise, and here the trumpet does bring out the melody more, bringing the whole band out of the atmospheric shadows of the trio version. Mikkelborg contributed "View," the longest track by far. It makes full use of the space, opening with drums and bass playing rubato; trumpet and guitar do not enter until almost the halfway mark.

The title tune was a collaboration between Mikkelborg and Bro (improvised around a Mikkelborg composition constructed around the letters ECM and founder/producer Manfred Eicher's name). The first part takes place with a guitar loop as the base, trumpet playing the melody over the top. After the drums and bass enter, Bro begins more of a dialog with the trumpet. "Hamsun" is a guitar/bass duet, highlighting Bro's relationship with Morgan. Mikkelborg's "Youth" closes the program with a gentle guitar/trumpet duet.

The occupant of the drum-chair seems to have a huge impact on Bro's groups; it would have been interesting to hear what this band would do with music from Streams (ECM, 2016), the trio with drummer Joey Baron. But there is no denying the seductive classic ECM sound produced by veterans Mikkelborg and Christensen, a clear antecedent to Bro's atmospheric style.

Track Listing: Oktober; Strands; Song for Nicolai; View; Lyskaster; Hamsun; Returnings; Youth.

Personnel: Jakob Bro: guitar; Palle Mikkelborg: trumpet, flugelhorn; Thomas Morgan: double bass; Jon Christensen: drums.

Title: Returnings | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: ECM Records

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