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Hakon Kornstad: Single Engine

Eyal Hareuveni By

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Norwegian saxophonist Håkon Kornstad has been one of the central figures on the new Norwegian scene that aspires to break new vistas beyond the almost codified ECM representation of the Nordic scene. Kornstad has shown, over the last decade, a wide scope of expression and mood, with his post bop Kornstad Trio [Space Available (Jazzland, 2002)], and its collaborations with guitarist Pat Metheny and German avant-garde trumpeter Axel Dörner, on his free improvisations with drummer Paal Nilssen-Love [Schlinger,(Smalltown Supersound, 2003)]. He's further demonstrated his breadth on his intimate and provocative duets with pianist Håvard Wiik [Eight Tunes We Like (Moserobie, 2005) and The Bad And The Beautiful (Moserobie, 2006)], and the beat- and electronics-based Wibutee, last heard on Sweet Mental (Sonne, 2006). This first solo effort demonstrates that Kornstad is indeed not bound by any genre or style, but has his own mature voice.

Kornstad begins with a contemplative piece, "Standard Arrival Route, stressing the vibrating and talkative sound of the tenor sax, but than adds a second melodica voice to great effect, until both sounds gel into a distant atmospheric soundscape. "Flutonette" is another slow piece, but this time it is an exploration of the homemade instrument, a hybrid of flute and clarinet. "Sweden" is a catchy chorus-based song on which Kornstad improvises in the low register of the tenor sax. Bugge Wesseltoft on Hammond B3 and Ingebrigt Håker Flaten on bass join Kornstad on the cinematic "B, a sort of soundtrack to a melancholic scene. "Turkey, Texas" is another exploration of song-based form, more rhythmic this time, with Kornstad using tenor and bass saxophones, as well as the flutonette, as sax choir together with Knut Reiersrud's lap steel, in a manner that pays an implied tribute to the R&B-influenced compositions of Julius Hemphill.

"Bånsull" and "ARDAL One Alpha" are slow and meditative pieces, both featuring the sonic possibilities of the flutonette. The first is gospel-tinged while the second has a more hyper-folkloric sound. Reiersrud opens "Kokarde" with a typically bluesy fretting, with Kornstad joining in with a soulful tenor for a beautiful exploration of the blues form. On the cinematic "Ambergris," Kornstad improvises imaginatively on an eerie backwards-played recording of him, while using the overtones of the recording to enhance his more linear playing. The album concludes with a heartfelt and engaging cover of Carole King's "Crying In The Rain, supported by the Flaten's assured bass playing.

A Beautiful and impressive statement.


Track Listing: Standard Arrival Route; Flutonette; Sweden; B; Turkey; Texas; B

Personnel: H

Title: Single Engine | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Jazzland Recordings

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Extended Analysis
CD/LP/Track Review
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Hakon Kornstad: Symphonies In My Head

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