Pianist Sten Sandell has recorded for a variety of modern jazz/avant-garde-based labels. This release features the artist in a trio setting, recorded live in Norway and Germany. Better known in Europe, Standell often opts for a muscular attack; and like many of his peers, he derives a fair amount of influence from pianist Cecil Taylor. However, the band comes right at you from the onset of the opening piece, "Mural," thanks to Standell's whirling clusters and kaleidoscopic movements. The rhythm section imaginatively mimics the pianist's torrid pace and swerving patterns via an omnipresent sense of motion and focus. Drummer Paal Nilssen-Love keeps this train a-rolling with a thoroughly musical approach, although the trio is apt to lower the pitch down to a whisper on "Axel" and elsewhere.
Amid all the call-and-response exchanges, Standell generally accelerates the undercurrents with an animated attack, consisting of colossal block chords, well placed harmonics and extremely quick lines on top. The pianist will periodically inject a saccharine melody or two into the overall scheme of things while bassist, Johan Berthling tends to alter the band's dynamic with weeping arco-bass passages and booming lines. The musicians abide by an autonomous approach as they delve into a variety of sub themes in concurrence with more than just a few curiously interesting propositions. Recommended.
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