The power of three indeed proved to be a magic charm for Per Mathisen
on the first Sounds of 3
(Losen, 2016), so it's probably only natural that he'd revisit the format sooner or later. What's more of a surprise, perhaps, is how things change. Where that recording was a loud and brash slice of jazz-rock, its colorful sequel slides more toward the jazzy side of that equation. This recording actually tones down the wattage just a little from the previous one, though it certainly doesn't lessen the importance of good chemistry and teamwork.
Mathisen being Mathisen, of course, he still provides plenty of the chops and energy that have earned him "Norwegian Bass Viking" for a nickname. His electric work remains fresh and dynamic as the neon montage on this record's cover. Still, from the time they kick off with a B.B. King
homage that's actually more funky than bluesy, he and his trio-mates show that it's always fun to give the obvious mold a little prod here and there.
The difference in this session also naturally comes from the change of bandmates. Gary Husband
brings an intricate rhythmic instinct well-honed from his extensive experience with John McLaughlin
and Allan Holdsworth
(among many others), largely staying away from the low-end drums and letting the leader do most of the hard hitting. For his part, Ulf Wakenius
plays with a wide spread of fuzz-guitar tones to match his slick fluency in modes and scales. The sonic palette is a perfectly versatile complement to Mathisen, who reinforces the numerical theme here by using three basses (acoustic upright, electric and fretless) on three tracks each.
It's again a largely upbeat affair; "Lines for Oscar" is a romp both precise and frisky, while "Invasion" and Husband's closer "Alphabet Soup" make spaces to let loose and shred. A wistful read on Mike Stern
's "What Might Have Been" strays as close to "lite" jazz as they get here, though the stimulating interplay easily balances out any danger of excessive smoothness. Egalitarianism and surprising interplay are still Sounds of 3
's defining qualities, and this installment certainly bodes well for the series whenever it may reach edition number three.
The Blues Boy; One of a Kind; 16 Knödeln; The Spin; Lines for Oscar; Wrapped Around Your Finger; Invasion; What Might Have Been; Alphabet Soup.
Per Mathisen: bass; Ulf Wakenius: guitar; Gary Husband: drums.