Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Westgaard / Hernandez / Strid: The Knapsack, The Hat, and The Horn


Westgaard / Hernandez / Strid: The Knapsack, The Hat, and The Horn


Sign in to view read count
Westgaard / Hernandez / Strid: The Knapsack, The Hat, and The Horn
The Knapsack, The Hat, and The Horn is a compelling exploration of free improvisation and acoustic sounds. The album, recorded in a single day in Gävle, Sweden, features Hein Westgaard on acoustic steel string guitar, Katt Hernandez on violin and Raymond Strid on drums. It dives into a rich soundscape that merges elements of hypnotic folk motifs, chamber music and abstract sonic territories, creating a unique listening experience that feels both adventurous and deeply personal.

The music draws inspiration from a lesser-known Brothers Grimm story, using the magical and transformative powers of the story's objects to parallel the trio's exploration of sound. Westgaard aimed to investigate the delicate possibilities of acoustic improvisation, where the percussiveness of the drums and the sustained notes of the violin and guitar find a harmonious balance.

This stripped-down, three-piece collaboration weaves together elements of Nordic folk, experimental music and a touch of free jazz, creating an intimate and mesmerizing soundscape. Moments of pizzicato violin and gentle guitar strumming create a sense of intimacy, while sudden bursts of frantic improvisation inject a dose of raw energy. The trio masterfully navigates between these contrasting elements, building tension and releasing it with effortless grace.

"Ouverture" is a piece improvised with subtle dialogues, Strid's colorful use of his cymbal's bells, and asymmetrical drumming. It is a quiet storm with sonorous inflections, escalated by Hernandez's fervent staccato lines and the trio's noise-shaping mini-motifs. The musicians build a dramatic climax, bringing the music back down to earth. However, "Al's Cowboy Verkleidet" begins with Westgaard's folk-like chord voicings, contrasted by the violinist's soloing. On all tracks, Strid's resonating drums add impact and depth. Moreover, their modus operandi elicits notions of methodically compiling an abstract painting akin to Kandinsky or Pollock's output.

Westgaard's involvement in a variety of musical projects, from the genre-bending Hein Westgaard Trio to conceptual sound art with Ensemble Ektos, and Hernandez's extensive background in free experimental music scenes across the U.S., along with Strid's significant impact on free improvised drumming in Scandinavia, contribute to the album's diverse and rich auditory palette.

In sum, this outing is not just an exploration of sound but a demonstration of how three distinct musical voices can come together to create something unexpected and strangely attractive.

Track Listing

Hörnlein; Ouvertüre; Sack; Ranzen; Hütlein; Knap; Hathörn; Als Cowboy Verkleidet; Koda.


Album information

Title: The Knapsack, The Hat, and The Horn | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Gotta Let It Out



For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.


Strictly Smokin' & Friends
Strictly Smokin' Big Band
Chick Corea and Bela Fleck
Andrea Grossi Blend 3 + Jim Black
Art Of Art
Art Pepper


Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.