103

Hakon Kornstad: Symphonies In My Head

Eyal Hareuveni By

Sign in to view read count
Hakon Kornstad: Symphonies In My Head
The third consecutive solo album from Hakon Kornstad is an exemplary, creative work. The Norwegian saxophonist expands an already remarkable palette of sounds and technique from Single Engine (Jazzland, 2007) and Dwell Time (Jazzland, 2009) with musical references that continue to grow and surprise. As before, he manages to turn his improvisations into small symphonies, arresting in their structure and deep emotional impact.

As with Dwell Time, Kornstad uses the excellent acoustics of Oslo's Sofienberg Church as his recording studio, opening Symphonies In My Head with "Pearlfisher," an improvisation based on an aria from Georges Bizet's opera Les pêcheurs de perles that marks his growing interest in operatic repertoire. Using loops as a percussive effect that intensifies his extended techniques on tenor sax, the beautiful melody draws on elements that would not be alien to the sonic landscape of avant-garde British sax innovator, John Butcher. Percussive loops also form the basis of the cinematic improvisation "Damscus," a mysterious, peaceful story of the Middle Eastern city in imagined era. Soft, looped percussion sounds also underscore "Sansula," based on the kalimba (European adaption of the African thumb piano), featuring Kornstad's meditative work on flutonette—a flute with a sax mouthpiece.

On "ABA," Kornstad loops the fluid tenor delivery of a seductive theme, creating an entrancing polyphonic kaleidoscope effect that lingers in mind long after the piece has ended. "Aire" is a demanding orchestral piece that uses Kornstad's looped breaths into the mouthpieces, the sax keys as percussive aids, and even more processed elements incorporated as the piece gains more sonic layers and power. The simple, minimalist "Mandal" uses Kornstad's natural breaths to form its spare structure, thus avoiding the strictly repetitive and worn out symmetry of most minimalist compositions.

"Flutter" begins with looped folksy flutes, using breathing, humming and singing reminiscent of Rahsaan Roland Kirk, but used to create a driving pulse for Kornstad's well-crafted tenor solo. The closing "Plystre," is another minimalist piece, albeit more romantic. The addition of Kornstad's processed choral vocals and gentle whistle serves as a fitting closure to this cycle of symphonic improvisations, making it one of the best releases of 2011.

Track Listing

Pearlfisher; Damsacus; Sansula; ABA; Aire; Mandal; Flutter; Plystre.

Personnel

Håkon Kornstad: tenor and bass saxophones; flutes, flutonette, sansula, voice, looper.

Album information

Title: Symphonies In My Head | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Jazzland Recordings

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Waterwheel
Daniel Thatcher
New Leaves
Dan Rose, Claudine Francois
Astonishments
Steve Swell
A Swingin' Sesame Street Celebration
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton...
Transformation
Glenn Close/Ted Nash
Special Edition: Procedural Language
Ivo Perelman & Matthew Shipp
Ever Since The World Ended
Lauren White and the Quinn Johnson Trio
Rah! Rah!
Claire Daly

Popular

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.