Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

511

Havard Wiik Trio: The Arcades Project

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Freedom comes in many forms, and while still a relative youngster, Oslo-based pianist Håvard Wiik's already built a career across the broadest possible spectrum of improvisational possibilities, whether it's with Atomic, the Swedish/Norwegian collective where Wiik's name first came to attention on albums including the expansive three-CD The Bikini Tapes (Jazzland, 2005), his ongoing "covers" duo with Jazzland label mate/saxophonist Håkon Kornstad on the inventive The Bad and the Beautiful (Moserobie, 2007), or his sparer solo album Palinode (Moserobie, 2007). The Arcades Project debuts Wiik's trio of bassist Ole Morten Vågan and drummer Håkon Mjåset Johansen—a tightly knit rhythm team already heard on Maria Kannegaard's Maryland (Moserobie, 2007), and for whom each new album is a revelation of seamless interaction.

Wiik, Vågan and Johansen are also members of Motif, a quintet whose forthcoming third album (first for Jazzland) Apo Calypso, is already on the short list for one of 2008's best. But here the focus is on Wiik the writer and democratic bandleader. As plainly virtuosic as Brad Mehldau—and with a voice that's equally comprised of a multiplicity of stylistic markers—The Arcades Project is how Mehldau might sound were he to be a considerably freer thinker, attentive to time and changes, but more prepared to dispense with either or both in the pursuit of collective, spontaneous creation.

Wiik's writing covers a lot of territory. The blocky and complex theme of "Arcades" nevertheless leads to a solo section of unadorned beauty before bursting into trio interaction possessed of an aggressive pulse but feeling somehow distanced from it. It also features a solo of characteristic abandon by Vågan, who demonstrated similar panache with saxophonist Tore Brunborg at JazzNorway in a Nutshell 2008. "Malachi"'s theme may be brief, but its idiosyncratic enough to create another unique context for Vågan's relentless invention, supported by Johansen's astute brushwork and Wiik's responsive yet provocative interplay that almost imperceptibly assumes increasing dominance.

Wiik and the trio aren't averse to sparer work, where the decay of a note and the texture of a scraped cymbal are as fundamental as busier collaboration. The bleak "Weisengrund" is downright dirge-like, though its sense of time is more elastic as Wiik creates brief cascades to contrast with the tune's oblique sense of space. "Enology" may reference ambient guru Brian Eno, but the free play that begins in the ether—with Vågan's bowed harmonics leading to Wiik's skewed but unmistakable melody, Johansen's textural brushwork and ultimately greater power—has more to do with the demanding spontaneous composition of Paul Bley and his pinnacle of piano trio improvisation with Gary Peacock and Paul Motian, Not Two, Not One (ECM, 1999), than any kind of environmental backdrop.

Still, unlike the chart-averse Bley, The Arcades Project is an outstanding example of modernistic, line-blurring, form-meets-freedom writing that could only work in the hands of a trio as widely versed as Wiik, Vågan and Johansen. Regardless of the setting, these are three young Norwegians to keep an eye on.

Track Listing: Arcades; Malachi; Wiesengrund; Odradek; W.f.W.; Enology; Portbou; Italics.

Personnel: Håvard Wiik: piano; Ole Morten Vågan: double-bass; Håkon Mjåset Johansen: drums.

Title: The Arcades Project | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Jazzland Recordings

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Date Detail Price
Jan4Fri
9:00 pm
Dag Magnus Narvesen Kvintett
Aufsturz
Berlin, Germany
€10

Related Articles

Read Vilddjur CD/LP/Track Review
Vilddjur
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Lines in Sand CD/LP/Track Review
Lines in Sand
by Geno Thackara
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Like A Fire That Consumes All Before It CD/LP/Track Review
Like A Fire That Consumes All Before It
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 11, 2018
Read The Brave CD/LP/Track Review
The Brave
by Geannine Reid
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Strings 1 CD/LP/Track Review
Strings 1
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Pillars CD/LP/Track Review
Pillars
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 10, 2018
Read "Works for Two Chapels" CD/LP/Track Review Works for Two Chapels
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 27, 2018
Read "The Literature" CD/LP/Track Review The Literature
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: July 22, 2018
Read "Zebres" CD/LP/Track Review Zebres
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 27, 2018
Read "The Future is Female" CD/LP/Track Review The Future is Female
by Paul Rauch
Published: March 23, 2018
Read "The Doctor Is In ...And Out" CD/LP/Track Review The Doctor Is In ...And Out
by Chris May
Published: July 6, 2018
Read "Paul Heller Meets Roman Schwaller" CD/LP/Track Review Paul Heller Meets Roman Schwaller
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 18, 2018