Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

265

Mats Eilertsen: Short Stories

Budd Kopman By

Sign in to view read count
Short Stories, with fourteen tracks totaling less than forty minutes, is a disc of all solos (except for the last track) that manages to be intense and calming at the same time. Most current jazz releases have an overriding theme, or at least an attitude—compositional or otherwise—that binds the tracks together. That the motives of bassist Mats Eilertsen are not obvious makes the release all that more intriguing.

What is obvious is the overall sound, which is somber with reflections of church music. Despite the fact that Short Stories was recorded in two different churches, the ambience is not one of long decaying echoes. The church influence is heard directly in the organ playing of Torbjørn Dyrud, who contributes three pieces ("Geist," "Litany" and "Undertow").

An interesting musician, Dyrud composes for organ and piano, but mostly for a cappella choir. As a player, he is interested in improvisation and these three pieces, particularly "Geist," do not sound through-composed. "Litany" would fit perfectly in the post Vespers music played Sundays at St. John The Divine in New York City, while "Undertow" evokes the feel of water. The inclusion of "Alltid Freidig" by C. E. F. Weyse, although played by Eilertsen, leads back to Dyrud.

Accordionist Frode Haltli plays two Eilertsen compositions ("Preludium" and "East Of Auster"). While his album Passing Images (ECM, 2007) demonstrated that Haltli stretches the use of the accordion, here he is asked to interpret music that again is quite churchy. "Preludium" functions as an introduction to the following track and directly leads to it harmonically.

That second track is "To The Little Radio" by Hanns Eisler which is first played as a solo by Eilertsen and repeated as the last track with Dyrud taking the lead, accompanied by Haltli and Eilertsen. A complex person, Eisler was a student of Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg, broke with him saying that music should have a social function, was exiled from Nazi Germany, later declared an "undesirable alien" during the McCarthy Era, wrote the East German national anthem, yet fought the censorship of jazz and atonal music, and finally was an early proponent of the technologies of radio, film and recording.

Since the solo and trio versions of the Eisler tune bracket the album, it assumes an importance beyond how charming it is. What we are left with is Eilertsen's compositions and playing. "Metal" and "Apus Apus" do not fit into the prevailing mood and are distinctly modern, especially the latter. "Gutua" and "Glory" share a similar musical space, with the latter being a bit more rhythmically active, while "Lace" and "Vertigo" are both arco and use harmonics.

In the end, Short Stories can be seen as an experiment in writing miniatures where every note counts, as a social statement which looks backwards or as a political statement (of some kind), and it is worth every note.

Track Listing: Preludium; To The Little Radio; Metal; Alltid Freidig; Geist; Lace; Gutua; East Of Auster; Glory; Litany; Vertigo; Apus Apus; Undertow; To The Little Radio.

Personnel: Mats Eilertsen: double bass; Frode Haltli: accordion; Torbj

Title: Short Stories | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: AIM Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Extended Analysis
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles

More Articles

Read Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns CD/LP/Track Review Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Song of No Regrets CD/LP/Track Review Song of No Regrets
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Sounding Tears CD/LP/Track Review Sounding Tears
by John Sharpe
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Lighthouse CD/LP/Track Review Lighthouse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Kill The Boy CD/LP/Track Review Kill The Boy
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 16, 2017
Read Rain or Shine CD/LP/Track Review Rain or Shine
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 15, 2017
Read "Marching Song Volumes 1 & 2 Plus Bonus Tracks" CD/LP/Track Review Marching Song Volumes 1 & 2 Plus Bonus Tracks
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 31, 2017
Read "I Speilvendthet" CD/LP/Track Review I Speilvendthet
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 9, 2017
Read "Humanity" CD/LP/Track Review Humanity
by Jim Olin
Published: October 5, 2017
Read "Sing Me Some Cry" CD/LP/Track Review Sing Me Some Cry
by John Sharpe
Published: December 6, 2017
Read "80 Years" CD/LP/Track Review 80 Years
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 10, 2017
Read "UpRoot" CD/LP/Track Review UpRoot
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 2, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!