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Jacob Karlzon: The Big Picture

Jack Huntley By

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There is a crisp lyricism to even the most penetrating tracks on Jacob Karlzon 3's The Big Picture that propels the music from the somber to the majestic with equal vitality. Karlzon's nuanced keyboards seamlessly move from spacious repeating themes to intense flurries of solos, all the while supported by Hans Andersson's nimble bass and Jonas Holgersson's plush percussion. This is truly a group recording, with each member providing to a whole, which adds up to a prolific musical experience.

Karlzon's arrangements couple tightly crafted compositional elements with harmonically open soundscapes, achieving a fertile emotional end. "Bakersfield Revisited" is built around a brooding melody line to which Karlzon adds even darker left-hand chordal accents and rhythmically agile solos that create a tension only released in the theme's eventual return. The title track moves in a similar direction, but with a gentler, more reflective manner. The opening melody unfolds as Karlzon lays down lustrous piano lines, before cutting loose in expansive, low-register chord fragments coupled with brighter arpeggios (a technique he aptly exploits backing Andersson's well-crafted bass solo), all of which creates a warm, moving dynamic.

Karlzon composes all the tunes on The Big Picture save two brave choices. The band tackles U2's desert-lonely rocker, "In God's Country," with a straight swing that builds into introspective solos which outshine anything The Edge laid down in the original. But, most amazingly, the Jacob Karlzon 3 actually makes the synth-pop tune "Maniac" into a respectable musical offering (although listeners will be excused if they struggle mightily to unclasp this more nuanced melody from the schlocky original). Texturally, a real standout throughout the album is the way Karlzon's vibrant piano is periodically embellished by other instruments and sounds. Whether it is a synthesizer, a Rhodes keyboard, or a programmed loop, Karlzon adds just enough to create a deepened sonic feel without watering down his profound piano touch with needless effect.

In the end, the music on The Big Picture demonstrates real staying power. It's not just the compositional breadth, the intricate solos, or even the layered musical nuances—it is the music's emotional trek—an appreciable landscape provided and traversed with appreciation.

Track Listing: The Big Picture; Bakersfield Revisited; Maniac; On THe Horizon; In God's Country; Newbie; Ma Salama; Utopian Folksong; At The End Of The Day.

Personnel: Jacob Karlzon: piano; Hans Andersson: bass; Jonas Holgersson: drums.

Title: The Big Picture | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Stunt Records/Sundance Music

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