Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Hakon Kornstad: Single Engine

487

Hakon Kornstad: Single Engine

By

Sign in to view read count
Hakon Kornstad: Single Engine
Solo saxophone recordings are hardly new in the jazz canon, but you'd be hard-pressed to find one like Kornstad's Single Engine. Håkon Kornstad's star has been on the ascendance on the Scandinavian scene in diverse improvisational contexts including free group Tri-Dim, Jazzland owner Bugge Wesseltoft's New Conception of Jazz club music and Wibutee, a group marrying improvisation and technology with an aggressive rock stance.

Kornstad has proven himself a broadminded player, at home as a spare melodist but equally comfortable pushing Albert Ayler-like extremes. Single Engine is a largely accessible record, but that doesn't mean it lacks substance or that there aren't a number of surprises. It does place a spotlight on Kornstad's remarkable technique, as he applies it to a variety of contexts.

Single Engine isn't strictly a solo saxophone recording. Wesseltoft guests, alongside bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (of Atomic and Scorch Trio) on Hammond B-3 on the appropriately titled "B." The longest track on the disc, it's a gentle but occasionally foreboding tone poem where the line between form and freedom is elegantly blurred. Guitarist Knut Reiersrud duets with Kornstad on "Turkey, Texas," where the saxophonist's Middle Eastern-tinged melody only seems conceptually at odds with his rootsy loops and Reiersud's delta-informed acoustic slide guitar. Riersrud also appears on "Kokarde," a plaintive song that wouldn't sound out of place on Ry Cooder's soundtrack to Wim Wenderr's Paris, Texas (1984).

But the real revelations are on the tunes where Kornstad stands alone. Those familiar with Jazzland Community (Jazzland, 2007), or who have seen Community performances like the one at the 2007 Montreal Jazz Festival, have already heard "Sweden," a tune where Kornstad takes the concept of multi-phonics and moves it into the realm of melodic self-accompaniment. Rather than an exercise in dissonance, Kornstad layers in melodious harmony, creating an I-IV-V song where he seamlessly alternates between a simple melody and the multi-phonic chords. It's perhaps the most remarkable display of unique technique on the record.

It's not the only sign of Kornstad's distinctive approach. "Ardal One Alpha" is another example of consonant multi-phonics, but includes the use of looping to create a delicate, near-ambient orchestral soundscape. "Ambergris" adds saxophone samples and a rudimentary synthesizer, with Kornstad generating a percussive pulse through embouchure alone, and some brief moments of reckless abandon.

In addition to tenor and bass saxophones, Konrstad has created a curious hybrid of flute with a clarinet mouthpiece, called a flutonette (other Norwegians, including saxophonist Trygve Seim and trumpeter Arve Henriksen regularly experiment with similar bastardized instruments). It's a warm sound used to great effect on both "Turkey, Texas" and the solo "Flutonette."

Adventurous, yet undeniably accessible, Single Engine is another rung on a ladder that Kornstad's been climbing for the past few years. Along with Seim, he's part of a new generation of Norwegian reed players regularly pushing the boundaries of the instrument, finding limitless potential through persistent experimentation.

Track Listing

Standard Arrival Route; Flutonette; Sweden; B; Turkey; Texas; B

Personnel

Hakon Kornstad
saxophone

H

Album information

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


Next >
Mirror

Comments

Tags


For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

More

Where Did You Go?
Sandman Project
Traumsequenz
Moritz Stahl
The Cold Arrow
Gregorio / Smith / Bryerton
Mosaic
Nicole McCabe

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.