The Source But swinging doesn't bend them down Odin Records
This new release by Norwegian jazz outfit The Source arrives 15 years after the quartet's self-titled ECM debut and makes up for lost time with angular swing, unconventional rubato and offbeat contemplation. The four protagonistseach a pillar of the contemporary Norwegian jazz landscapehave remained quite busy with other projects in the meantime: drummer Per Oddvar Johansen
continues to expand his leader-date catalogue on Losen records with further restlessness documented on various sideman gigs. Mats Eilertsen
has released leader dates on ECM and can be found adding the deep end to what feels like one in two Northern jazz albums out there, while Oyvind Braekke
stays active leading a cutting-edge jazz sextet featuring Norwegian guitarist Jacob Young
. Trygve Seim
's saxophone playing, of course, is even more renowned and recorded today than it was in 2006. ...but swinging doesn't bend them down
is an all-originals set, with writing credits divided among all four musicians. There's popping ("Rusletur"), hefty bass throb ("Mondays"), funky grooves ("Big Shuffle") and swing ("Momk") as well as pretty much anything in between. The quartet isn't in a hurry to get to a certain point on this release but rather performs a balancing act, packing free ruminations, intimate dialogues, bursting instrumentalism and patient balladry under one umbrella. "Rubato alla Grande" is a good indication of the singular conversations this tight ensemble is capable of leading, as the musicians appear to instinctively finish each other's sentences. Between the brooding romanticism of "Raag Löyly" and the pensively searching ensemble improvisation "Theme for Alvar Wirkola" there's a lot to discover on an album that finds horns artfully bending pitches against a creative percussive backdrop and woody bass textures. It's a different kind of swing, one that is uniquely northern and uniquely The Source.
Vazesh The Sacred Key Earshift Music
"In Vazesh, we attempt to reduce music to the bare fundamentals, reconstructing it from the ground up, using vestiges of melody, rhythm and pitch from our various backgrounds, as a pathway to uninhibited musical exploration." Australian saxophonist and bass clarinetist Jeremy Rose
is as gifted with words as he is at grasping musical form and vision with his raspy reed and hits the proverbial nail squarely on the head in his short description of this trio's music. Rose, who is the founder of Earshift Musicthe label this album is released onand co-leader of Australian quartet The Vampires, is joined here by bassist Lloyd Swanton
(known as part of Sydney-based group The Necks) and Hamed Sadeghi on tar. Those who've never heard of the Persian string instrument should imagine something of a crossover between banjo and sitar, reverberating and vibrating overtones mingling with firm plucking attack. The Sacred key
, the trio's debut record, was recorded live at the Sydney Opera House in 2020 and contains two long-form improvisations based around lose definitions of pitch, tonality, rhythm and pulse. Melody reigns as this programme unfolds, delicately balancing pattern-based string work with, in turns, textural and precisely melodic bass lines, with saxophone and clarinet sown in between the two. It's a natural gathering of forces that dynamically and authentically traverses a multitude of different idioms, cultures and colors by uniting at the lowest common denominator up to the greatest. Egberto Gismonti
's ECM dates with Nana Vasconcelos
come to mind as close relatives to this music. Not because of the influences they may or may not share, but because of how organically Rose, Sadeghi and Swanton form sounds and conversations together and how these spontaneously and emotionally take their course, shrink and grow, contract and expand, stop and go as each instrument is in search for one and the same thing. It's an exceptional accomplishment to make music sound this easy.
Lionel Loueke Close Your Eyes Sounderscore
Admittedly, this album isn't strictly newit was released on a limited Vinyl run with Newvelle Records two years ago. This is a CD/digital reissue, released with Sounderscore Records, containing three extra cuts that were left off the original LP: Thelonious Monk
's "We See," John Coltrane
's "Countdown" and Hoagy Carmichael
's "Skylark"all excellent additions to an intriguing trio collaboration between three of a generation's heavy-weights. Lionel Loueke
's guitar playing is as melodic as it is percussive, and his nimble feel for rhythm is met with euphoria by Eric Harland
on drums in the opening Wayne Shorter
tune "Footprints." Few of the very familiar standards featured in this set are played the way jazz connoisseurs are used to hearing them be playedLoueke and bassist Reuben Rogers
's duo foray into Hammerstein II's evergreen "It Might As Well Be Spring" may come closest to what might be expected from such a format, but even here Loueke's rhythmic outside playing combined with his signature tone and slides up and down the neck give the performance a particular edge. "Countdown" is slowed down quite a bit from Coltrane's original and instead of drums, Loueke takes care of introductions. Harland deconstructs the beat as Loueke roughly drifts through the intricate head of the tune. Where there was character, the Beninese guitarist and his rhythm section add even more, turning "Blue Monk" into a tasty, almost ironic romp and giving Miles Davis' "Solar" a modernized stop-and-go swing treatment with a fierce Harland riding cymbals and snare like the devil was chasing him. While the trio's take on "Moon River" does too little to extract something other than the nostalgic implications already buried within the song's score, the title track and "Skylark"the sole takes on the record that pass the seven-minute marksee the three musicians push the envelope, finding the joy of interaction in keeping a steady pulse, trading lines and recycling a good portion of swing's book of tricks. This is Loueke's first album of standards, one that was overdue and proves more than rewarding.
Linda Fredriksson Juniper We Jazz Records
More than just a jazz recordsimply sorting this music into that category wouldn't do it justice, nor can one be sure that jazz is what it wants to beLinda Fredriksson
should be understood as a journey of sonic discovery. An intense architectural design, composed of structures, textures, tones and angles (acoustically and electronically speaking), the album crosses through seven stages, songs bound together by an overreaching concept revolving around the saxophonist's monologues. The monologues are portrayed in passe-partouts: percussion and organ/synth-pipes envelope the sax on "Neon light," a sticky modulating moog line takes a constant accompanying role in the title track, increasingly noisy drums form a storm on "NanaTepalle" and a low-fi aesthetic takes center-stage on "Lampilauluni" and "Pinetree song"here Fredriksson takes a break from soloing. In fact, the saxophone pulls back completely and lets the mood tell the story. Stories, because there's a songwriter quality to these pieces, placing substance over virtuosity, detail over a wealth of information and concentration over extensiveness. But all things considered, "Transit in the softest forest, walking, sad, no more sad, leaving" is still nothing other than a funky fusion romp that hits hard, clumsily interrupting an otherwise pensive track list with youthful force. "Clea" closes the album on an atmospheric and seemingly intimate note. Fredriksson's tone is soothing and soothes everything around it until it all fades.
Frederik Villmow Trio Motion Losen Records
This drum-led piano trio out of Norway spreads gentle rubato progressions and well-calibrated swing across a set of originals and standards, with the drummer's own compositions proving as intuitive and catchy as anything from the real book. Frederik Villmow
has a firm grip around his brushes, embedding pianist Vigleik Storaas' piano stride in a balanced mix of warm snare strokes and brilliant cymbals as Bjørn Marius Hegge's bass moves in an assertive walking motion Motion
being the name of the game here. Three of Villmow's own cuts are placed at the beginning of the proceedings, each quite different from the other. "Open landscape Two" is a rubato workout, much in the ECM tradition, which recalls another rare drummer-led piano trio with Peter Erskine
, John Taylor
and Palle Danielsson
. Interaction between Villmow, Storaas and Hegge is tight and smooth halfway through the opening piece, as spontaneously wrought cadences trickle down from the piano and mingle with shivering cymbals. Storaas continues to mesmerize on the standard-esque "December Waltz," his repertoire of voicings and nimble runs across the keyboard suggesting he learned a thing or two from listening to Keith Jarrett
. But there's something personal to his style, and equally elegant, too. The trio's take on "Blame it on my Youth," the album's first standard, is a seasoned, quite beautiful rendition, even if it is unlikely to change anyone's perception of the song (although Hegge's extended sextuplet-rich solo midway through should turn some heads). On Jimmy Van Heusen's "Like Someone In Love" the group takes a swinging mid-tempo turn and once again proves its impeccable musicianship as Storaas takes the lead and provides all the necessary magic to convince anyone that this is pretty much as sophisticated as it gets. And it's nice to be faced with a giving leader, one that understands the music, the environment and his fellow musicians, adding what many a trio tend to lack: subtlety. In his own humble way, Villmow is a surprising leader, and Motion
an absolute success.
Philippe Mouratoglou Ricercare
Not quite a fugue, nor a motet, the late Renaissance /early baroque Ricercare was an instrumental composition permeated with the characteristics of both mentioned genres, including a strong emphasis on the contrapuntal technique of voice leading and a unique resemblance toward the improvised. On his new trio record, French guitarist Philippe Mouratoglou
has taken to interpret Francesco Canova da Milano's "Ricercare XXXVIII," lending the album its name. Often viewed as nothing other than a notated improvisation, Ricercares are multiple-themed sequences of harmonic action and motifs with very little repetition, if at all demonstrating the kind of vast and open musical landscape contemporary improvised music boasts of. But that's pretty much where the reminiscence to the music on this album ends. Mouratoglou plays a steel-string acoustic guitar throughout, evoking the pastoral landscapes of folk music, as his sidemen, Bruno Chevillon
on bass and Ramon Lopez
on drums, create an appropriately rurally mannered backdrop. In the main, Mouratoglou plays in open D tuning, raising breezy open stringed voicings into smooth spheres of interaction with bass and drums, that closely follow his lead. The result is, in turns, either mesmerizing or monochrome. When the playing turns angular, as in "Bleu Sahara" or "Inventions Sur Curumim" (loosely based on "Curumim" by the Brazilian guitarist-singer-composer Djavan), the trio becomes one, driving steady pulse and rigorous exchanges into rare climaxesrhythmically engaging throughout. In quieter exhibitions, like the rubato-waterfall "Les Mains De Pluie," the interlude "Capricornes" or deconstructed "Fleurs Obscures," Mouratoglou's reach within the open tuning succumbs to its limits, revealing a slightly barren notion. There are however many unique ideas included throughout this programme, and Mouratoglou's take on Jimmy Rowles' "The Peacocks" will surely prove to be among the most unique approaches to the tune Stan Getz
brought to fame.
Tracks and Personnel But swinging doesn't bend them down
Tracks: Rusletur; Monday; One Step Further -Three Back; Limbo; Rubicon; Spring Psalm; Raab Lily; Rubati alla grande; Something's Motion; Big Shuffle; Responsorium; Mom; Theme for Alvar Wirkola; Dawn.
Personnel: Oyvind Braekke: trombone; Trygve Seim: saxophone; Mats Eilertsen: bass; Per Oddvar Johansen: drums. Vazesh
Tracks: Hypolimnion; Thermocline.
Personnel: Jeremy Rose: saxophones, bass clarinet; Hamed Sadeghi: tar; Lloyd Swanton: bass. Close Your Eyes
Tracks: Footprints; It Might As Well Be Spring; Countdown; Moon River; Solar; Blue Monk; Body And Soul; Close Your Eyes; Skylark; We See; Naima..
Personnel: Lionel Loueke: guitar; Eric Harland: drums; Reuben Rogers: bass. Juniper
Tracks: Neon Light [and the sky was trans]; Juniper; nana -Tepalle; Pinetree song; Transit in the softest forest, walking, sad, no more sad, leaving.
Personnel: Linda Fredriksson: saxophone, bass clarinet, guitar, piano, voice, rhythmic8 synth; Tuomo Prättälä: Fender Rhodes, moog synthesizers, Juno 106, prophet 8, piano; Olavi Louhivuori: drums; Mikael Saastamoinen: bass & effects; Minna Koivisto: modular synthesizer, moog, op-1; Matti Bye: piano (3); Joonas Saikkonen: granulator (4). Motion
Tracks: Open Landscape Two; December Waltz; Slow Motion; Blame It On My Youth; Like Someone In Love; A Lovely Way To Spend An Evening; Open Landscape One.
Personnel: Frederik Villmow: drums; Vigleik Storaas: piano; Bjørn Marius Hegge: bass. Ricercare
Tracks: Visions (Cherokee); Bleu Sahara; Les Mains De Plume; The Peacocks; Flurs Obscures; Ricercare XXXVIII; Inventions Sur Curumim; Capricornes; Shamisen; Soleils D'Hier.
Personnel: Philippe Mouratoglou: guitar; Bruno Chevillon: bass; Ramon Lopez: drums.