449

Trygve Seim: Sangam

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Sangam , or "confluence" in Sanskrit, is sometimes interpreted as "the meeting point of three rivers," an appropriate title for young Norwegian saxophonist/composer Trygve Seim's second album as a leader, where he comfortably and seamlessly blends elements of jazz, contemporary composition, and various folk traditions. It's also a fitting reference to Different Rivers (ECM, '00), a much-lauded d?but recording that introduced Seim to a broader international audience and is a clear antecedent. Lastly, it also works as a pointer to the three primary voices on Sangam —Seim, the rapidly-becoming-ubiquitous trumpeter Arve Henriksen, and clarinetist Håvard Lund.

Listeners looking for any strict relationship to the North American jazz tradition, however, will find that Seim's reference points are far broader and more influenced by earlier ECM recordings, including Jan Garbarek's Eventyr and, more importantly, the liberated muse of the late composer/drummer Edward Vesala. In fact, if there is any precedent for Seim's work, it is in that of Vesala, with whom Seim worked intermittently before his untimely death at the age of 54 in '99. Although more consistently contemplative than his counterpart, Seim demonstrates a similar penchant for intriguing instrumental combinations—on Sangam , in addition to the three primary voices already identified, Seim brings together bass saxophone, French horn, tuba, accordion, cello, and drums to create a rich and distinctive sound that is more about smooth surfaces and rounded edges.

Seim's compositions are almost painfully beautiful. The title track begins with Lund's clarinet in apparent free-flow, although Seim's melodies are so esoteric and long-form as to sometimes blur the line between improvisation and structure. But Lund's phrases and Henriksen's subsequent shakuhachi-like expressions act as gentle catalysts for the ensemble, which creates lush-long tone washes over which the principle soloist can then soar. "Beginning" may have a stated rhythm, but it is no less subtle and evocative. Henriksen's almost naïve theme is melancholic, supported by close voicings and a simple set of changes which Seim broadens through constantly shifting harmonies, intertwining lines that converge and digress with tender lyricism. And when, midway through the piece, Henrkisen solos with his breath-like tone and the ensemble gradually raises the dynamics. But as dramatic as the piece ultimately becomes, it never loses its innate poignancy and sense of calm.

Adding two trombones and a string ensemble to the mix, the four part "Himmelrand i Tidevand" suite may be Seim's most ambitious score to date. Seim manages to take instruments normally considered brash, creating an uncanny sense of tranquility on "Part I." In fact, if there's any singular description of Seim's music, it's that of peace and harmony; but a multitude of possibilities clearly dwell within that space.

Seim's own playing, ethereal yet grounded, is but one voice in this remarkable ensemble where he emphasizes colour, texture and melody over stark technical display. As auspicious a d?but as Different Rivers was, Sangam further develops Seim's singular conception. This one should rightfully find itself on many of this year's top ten lists.


Track Listing: Sangam; Dansante; Beginning; Himmerland i Tidevand - Part I; Part II; Part III; Part IV - Trio; Prayer.

Personnel: Trygve Seim: tenor and soprano saxophone; Håvard Lund: clarinet, bass clarinet; Nils Jansen: bass saxophone, contrabass clarinet; Arve Henriksen: trumpet; Tone Reichelt: French horn; Lars Andreas Haug: tuba; Frode Haltli: accordion; Morten Hannisdal: cello; Per Oddvar Johansen: drums; Øyvind Brække: trombone (4); Helge Sunde: trombone (4); String Ensemble with Christian Eggen conducting (4).

Title: Sangam | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: ECM Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Provenance CD/LP/Track Review Provenance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 17, 2017
Read No Matter Where Noir CD/LP/Track Review No Matter Where Noir
by Patrick Burnette
Published: November 17, 2017
Read Out Of Silence CD/LP/Track Review Out Of Silence
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 17, 2017
Read Plodi CD/LP/Track Review Plodi
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 17, 2017
Read Secret Language CD/LP/Track Review Secret Language
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 17, 2017
Read Shamat CD/LP/Track Review Shamat
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 16, 2017
Read "Cool" CD/LP/Track Review Cool
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: March 20, 2017
Read "Popofoni" CD/LP/Track Review Popofoni
by Duncan Heining
Published: May 3, 2017
Read "Rising Colossus" CD/LP/Track Review Rising Colossus
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 28, 2016
Read "More Figs And Blue Things" CD/LP/Track Review More Figs And Blue Things
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 3, 2016
Read "Blue And Lonesome" CD/LP/Track Review Blue And Lonesome
by Doug Collette
Published: February 4, 2017
Read "Tales From A Forbidden Land" CD/LP/Track Review Tales From A Forbidden Land
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 1, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.

Please support out sponsor