brings together three of Denmark's finest artists, in their ancestral home. Palle Mikkelborg
and Marilyn Mazur
have a substantial history together, as does Jakob Bro
but to a lesser extent. Bro penned five of the six compositions, one with Mikkelborg, who also contributed one of his pieces. In a storied career which dates to the '60s, Mikkelborg has recorded as a leader in only five previous projects. Nevertheless, his work with Dexter Gordon
, Miles Davis
, Gary Peacock
, Terje Rypdal
, and many other top names, places him securely in iconic status.
Mazur, an American-born percussionist, has lived in Denmark since the age of six. She has worked with Gil Evans
, Wayne Shorter
, Jan Garbarek
and, at Mikkelborg's request, appeared on Miles Davis' Aura
(Columbia, 1989). Mikkelborg wore multiple hats on that project, acting as producer, composer, and performer. Bro leads a trio with Joey Baron
and Thomas Morgan
and was a member of the Paul Motian
Band, and Tomasz Stańko
's Dark Eyes Quintet. He has worked with Paul Bley
, Bill Frisell
, Chris Speed
, and Kenny Wheeler
Opening with "Gefion" and "Oktober" the trio establishes an Intimate setting under brooding skies. Mikkelborg's searching flugelhorn conveys boldness without breathing fire. The Mikkelborg & Bro piece, "Returnings," breaks the mood with a piercing trumpet, electric guitar, and Mazur's exotic rhythms. A forceful, hard-edged attack suddenly dissolves, quietly buzzing to a near silence. The title track resumes the initial atmospherics, closing, almost twelve minutes later with faint detachment from the theme. The ethereal "Youth" is a gem of slightly distorted melancholy with Bro's excellent acoustic guitar and the muted haunting of Mikkelborg's brass. The plaintive closing piece, "Lyskaster," is an elegant, if too brief, conclusion to the program. Strands
was recorded live in early 2023, at the Danish Radio Concert Hall, with minimal audience reaction. The resounding acoustics of the venue heighten the superb work of the trio. Regular Mikkelborg listeners may recognize that almost all the compositions on this album were originally recorded on Returnings
(ECM, 2018). That release featured Mikkelborg, Bro, bassist Thomas Morgan
and Jon Christensen
on drums, and the dynamics are sufficiently varied from these versions. Strands
is an absorbing listen from three masters of creative music.
Gefion; Oktober; Returnings; Strands; Youth; Lyskaster.
Palle Mikkelborg: flugelhorn.
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