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Paal Nilssen-Love: Townhouseorchestra

Andrey Henkin By

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Given the instrumentation on this album (tenor sax, piano, bass, and drums), the involvement of Evan Parker, and the format of long group improvisations, it's natural to think first about Parker's long-standing quartet with Alex Von Schlippenbach, Peter Kowald, and Paul Lovens. But that would be a mistake; a better comparison, though unnecessary, is an earlier group with Iréne Schweizer, Kowald, and Pierre Favre.

European improvisation is a national thing. The three Norwegians here—drummer and leader Paal Nilssen-Love, bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, and pianist Sten Sandell—are closer to the Swiss players mentioned above than Parker's usual German cohorts. But the focus here is not Parker, which makes this album even more unusual. He tends to become the center of sessions but here, an "intruder into a tight knit group of players, he submerges and the music becomes more of a successful group statement than originally expected.

Nilssen-Love is a remarkably pliant drummer in the finest tradition of Günter Sömmer or Lovens. He has a lot of improvisational experience and uses the drum kit more like a classical percussionist than the usual frenzied free drummer. Flaten abuses his bass regularly and the contrast between the two—refined versus feral—is the basis of Townorchestrahouse, as it is when they are together elsewhere.

Parker is the beguiling known quantity that still confounds, particularly on his circular breathing portions. Where the quartet and subsequently the music get fashioned differently is when Sandell's piano kicks in. Whether in "Town, "Orchestra, or "House, Sandell smoothes out some edges while shredding others. For his second album as a full leader, Nilssen-Love could not have brought together three more positive influences.


Track Listing: Town; Orchestra; House.

Personnel: Evan Parker: tenor saxophone; Ingebrigt Haker Flaten: bass; Paal Nilssen-Love: drums; Sten Sandell: piano.

Title: Townhouseorchestra | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Clean Feed Records

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