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Nordic Connect: Spirals

Nicholas F. Mondello By

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Spirals manifest themselves across art, nature and life in varied ways. The geometric spiral image might even be seen three-dimensionally, with infinite depth or point-of-view added or perhaps spinning in perpetual motion. There's movement and implied energy in the curling image. Engendering reflection, a spiral goes from and to somewhere.

Like its namesake, Nordic Connect's Spirals is absolutely fascinating; an engaging, energetic and multidimensional musical effort that compels involvement, movement and reflection. Simultaneously, Spirals displays a stark sense of beauty, with poetry of both fire and ice.

From the bell-like entry of the lilting first cut, "Travel Fever," trumpeter Ingrid Jensen and her all-of-Viking-ancestry ensemble do indeed connect and deliver a highly intelligent recording that intrigues and surprises. The nine selections—all originals from Nordic Connect's musicians—offer up varied grooves, tempos and textures. There is also an enjoyable ribbon of anticipation across the tunes, with its ensuing musical surprises never disappointing. The ensemble has a wonderfully integrated balance—a symmetry that works extremely well. There's no sense of a frontline and a rhythm section dyad. It all makes Spirals a terrific ensemble effort.

Jensen, a fine trumpeting talent with chops galore, plays with a beautifully centered sound-elegance, and with a restrained ferocity that is both serenely beautiful and bursting with innovative fire. A master and true improviser, Jensen's ability to spew exciting ideas from the horn is outstanding. There are times where Jensen's playing channels Woody Shaw and, with an accompanied harmonic, rhythmic and electronic framework similar to his later (but pre-Michael Jackson covers) efforts, Miles Davis.

Saxophonist/sister Christine Jensen is absolutely superb. Her soprano tone is especially full and rich; never strident or nasal. "Yew" frames her luscious playing; a playful, exciting and engaging soloist, she embraces sonority, even while light-speed flourishes of notes cascade from her creative consciousness. Christine Jensen's sound approach blends extremely well with that of her sister.

Keyboardist Maggi Olin, bassist Mattias Welin, and drummer/percussionist Jon Wikan shine throughout. Together, they fire and foster the marvelous creativity and energy generated in this session. Each member shares solid kernels of creative perspective. The interplay among the rhythm section and with the horns is a marvel.

Spirals certainly lives up to its name; compelling, it connects admirably, and seduces with its creative brilliance.

Track Listing: Travel Fever; Song For Inga; Earth Sighs; Castle Mountain; M--oving; Yew; 66 Mike; Ballad North; Brejk ä Leg.

Personnel: Ingrid Jensen: trumpet, flugelhorn, electronics; Christine Jensen: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Maggi Olin: piano, Fender Rhodes; Mattias Welin: acoustic bass; Jon Wikan: drums, cajon, percussion.

Title: Spirals | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Artist Share

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