The importance of choosing a name for your jazz band is often underestimated. Take the quintet Friends & Family for instance. When it was formed in 2008, it wasn't dubbed the Andre Roligheten Quintet or the Oscar Grönberg Band. No. From its beginnings, the quintet shared composing duties among its members as well as dutiful deference to each musician's sound. Proof of this friendship among neighbors (all live in Norway) is a string of excellent releases. The Earth Is # is the quintet's fifth disc. The last four were released on Portugal's Clean Feed
What is evident from Friends & Neighbors' music is their penchant to intertwine then untangle knotty and sometimes intricate compositions. And they do so with such ease and finesse. Pianist Oscar Grönberg's "Untitled" stops, then jumps sideways with an Ellingtonian grace before the the piano's locomotion launches saxophonist André Roligheten's soused solo. The charm here is both the tight compositions and the disciplined liftoff from those compositions.
On the title track, trumpeter Thomas Johansson (Cortex, Paal Nilssen-Love Large Unit) trades energy bursts in his call-and- response with Roligheten, before soloing with his mute both in and out. This may be the tightest most methodized improvisation recording of the year. By that is meant that the musicians' solos never loose sight of the motifs of each composition. Jon Rune Strøm's bass solo opens "Father's Birthday," which progresses as if it was coming from an Eric Dolphy Blue Note Records session of the 1960s. Drummer Tollef Østvang drives the pulse as Roligheten works his bass clarinet. The final track "Joseph" written by Strøm, reminds one of the Ornette Coleman tribute band Old And New Dreams, where the quintet assembles, disassembles, then reassembles the lush melody. This is the quintet's finest effort so far.
Halifax; Untitled; Salad Days; The Earth Is #; Father´s Birthday; Sidelinja; Joseph.