The engaging and inventive Transatlantic Conversations: 11 Piece Band is the result of a remarkable collaboration between Swedish pianist Maggie Olin and Canadian saxophonist Christine Jensen. What is exceptional about this Olin/Jensen pairing is the complementary nature of their singular musical visions. This is reflected in shared thematic structure and the creative spirit of the originals each woman has penned without either one losing her stylistic distinctiveness.
The Elingtonian "Orange" is one of the five Olin compositions on the album and it opens with a funky touch as bassist Mattias Welin weaves his loose swaggering lines into a soulful dance. Initially drummer Daniel Fredriksson supports Welin with his understated brushwork but quickly their interplay evolves into a complex and intriguing duet. This sets the mood for the piece as simultaneously swinging and exuberant yet exquisitely intricate. Baritone saxophonist Fredrik Lindborg blows with gusto muscular and earthy phrases that emerge from an exciting, collective sonic backdrop. A lively, sophisticated ensemble sound made up of several, overlapping and independent expressions rather than a single, smooth symphonic, yet tedious boom.
In comparison, Jensen's "Wink" is tenser, more angular as it opens with Olin's evocative and sparse chords. Vocalist Sofie Norling joins Olin with her expressive singing before the band's riotous, roaring vamps. Trumpeter Fredrik Noren improvises with fluidity and bold ingenuity all the while maintaining the melodic framework of the tune. Jensen takes center stage with flood of wailing notes that coalesce into a lithe and agile soliloquy that burns with a passionate abandon. Olin's crystalline cascade of keys, supported by atmospheric tambourines, strummed and reverberating strings usher in the exquisite conclusion.
The superbly crafted arrangements allow for seamless transition from group harmonies to individual performances. On the cinematic "Swirl Around" the alternating woodwind and brass create an expectant mood. Norling's ethereal voice glows with otherworldly beauty framed by the reeds, horns and the rhythm sections. Similarly the rousing rousing orchestral refrains envelope guitarist Torben Waldorff's haunting and contemplative solo.
Transatlantic Conversations: 11 Piece Band is a superlative disc of thrilling and enjoyable music. It crackles with spontaneity and bounds with fresh ideas and simultaneously remains accessible. It is a work that whets the appetite for more from these two multitalented artists.
Pink to Blue; Orange; Swirl Around; Red and Green; Wood Doll; Yellow & Grey;
Maggi Olin:piano; Christine Jensen: alto and soprano saxophones; Sofie Norling:
voice; Fredrik Lindborg: tenor and baritone saxophones; Henrik Frisk: tenor
saxophone, bass clarinet; Karin Hammar: trombone; Christine Carlsson: trombone;
Fredrik Noren: trumpet; Torben Waldorf: guitar; Mattias Welin: bass; Daniel
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