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All Included: Satan In Plain Clothes

John Sharpe By

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Cooperative five piece All Included goes from strength to strength on Satan In Plain Clothes, building on the already considerable charms of their debut Reincarnation Of A Free Bird (Stone Floor, 2012). Connections abound in the unchanged line up which reflects the burgeoning, almost incestuous, Scandinavian scene. Check out the overlaps in personnel among groups such as Exploding Customer, Angles, Universal Indians, Friends & Neighbours, Cortex, and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love's Large Unit, and you'll see for yourself. Like all those combos to varying degrees, All Included draws inspiration from the first generation of American New Thing practitioners such as Don Cherry, Archie Shepp, Albert Ayler and Ornette Coleman.

But it's not repertory. They mix boisterous free jazz wailing, hard bop antecedents, and New Orleans polyphony with improv sensibilities in a thoroughly contemporary approach. Saxophonist Martin Küchen and bassist Jon Rune Strøm split the writing credits. Different authors maybe, but on this showing they share a commitment to loosely corralled arrangements, which strike a fine balance between some majestic tunes and space for individuals to shine, yet still boast enough twists and turns to keep the listener guessing as to where they might go next.

"Tune for Martin" shows off the band's finer points, launching with trombonist Mats Alekint's blustery bellowing pitched against a lithe though relaxed meter. After a brief horn flourish, Küchen takes over on alto saxophone in an anguished, choked, almost incoherent outpouring of emotion. As with all his project Küchen revels in tonal distortions which emphasize the intense human cry of his playing. Another fanfare leads to a buoyant vamp to accompany trumpeter Thomas Johansson's boppish buzz and dart, until the other horns join in liberated colloquy to round out proceedings.

But it's the accomplished understanding between Strøm and drummer Tollef Østvang which sets this outfit apart. While they can swing with the best, they can also colorfully ruminate and roil out of tempo, and easily slip between the two. Which is exactly what they do on the flag waving title track where they alternate between an earthy boogaloo and freeform havoc, while Küchen preaches the gospel according to Ayler on baritone. By way of contrast, "I've been lied to" comprises a plaintive dirge complete with horn chorale, while "Three courses" sounds how you might expect a chart written by a bassist to sound, but transcends expectations nonetheless: opening with a staccato riff and featuring a knotty pizzicato solo, eventually subsumed by argumentative trombone and drums.

Track Listing: Tune for Martin; I've been lied to; The gap; Despair is in the air; Three courses; Satan in plain clothes.

Personnel: Martin Küchen: alto and baritone saxophone; Thomas Johansson: trumpet; Mats Alekint: trombone; Jon Rune Strøm: double bass; Tollef Østvang: drums.

Title: Satan In Plain Clothes | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Clean Feed Records

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