All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

274

Moller/Balke/Lund: Trialogue

By

Sign in to view read count
Jon Balke has risen to attention with his large ensemble albums for ECM. His Magnetic North Orchestra and Oslo 13 bristle with a provocative mix of percussion, punchy brass sections, electronic textures and placid piano interludes. This trio date, with Danish tenor saxophonist Lars Moller and drummer Morten Lund, distills those large ensembles into a stripped down form, while losing none of the intrigue. Recorded in 1999 but not released until 2003, Trialogue documents the trio’s improvised studio meeting. The two long tracks, clocking in at over twenty minutes apiece, and one shorter one, at eight minutes, flow from winding, all-acoustic exploration and whispered ambience to electro-acoustic duels.

On most of his records, Balke amply uses synthesizers. That symbol of the electronic age has been both boon and bane for musicians. It offers an endless new sound palette, but can be a crutch for real invention, or worse, completely dominate an ensemble. Its smooth, almost plastic tones can sound like an alien presence in more traditional jazz contexts. (Witness the bizarre, but successful David S. Ware quartet album, Corridors & Parallels, where Matthew Shipp creates unsettling sonic environments with which the acoustic musicians interact.) Balke, here and on all his recordings, mines the synth’s electronic colors and possibilities with taste and imagination, and often becomes the catalyst that develops the improvisations.

Balke’s broad, hollow tones, wisps, pulsating beds, and organ effects challenge Moller and Lund to interact in new ways, most apparent on “Chapter Two” and “Three.” The addictive “Two” slithers along as a minimalist rhythm jam. Balke sets the mood with a scratching, dripping beat, a spare bass pulse and tinkling piano fragments. Moller adapts and transforms his sax into a popping, sucking, moaning percussion device, while Lund restrains the drum’s role as rhythmic front man, content with accenting and underlining the groove.

”Three” starts as a sax and synth duet, Moller blowing cascading smears of notes against Balke’s stream of squelches and solar wind swoops. Out of a low-volume thicket of distorted piano and sax squiggles, Lund builds a sludgey groove. Balke soon inserts dub-wise warbling bass, and Moller simmers behind them. Eventually Balke laces in aggressively dissonant blasts, dissolving the fabric of the beat, and paving the way for a dramatic climax.

In places Trialogue feels like a scattered collection of ideas, for the trio roams so freely from episode to episode; such inconsistency is a hallmark of freely improvised music. The focus of “Two” makes it the most successful track, but “One” and “Three” do supply more daring and more surprises.

Moller, Balke and Lund show themselves to be ultra-sensitive improvisers, and they react meaningfully to the electronic presence, generating for their instruments new roles. Improvisation is a two-way street; it can reinforce old habits, but also open new paths. Trialogue marvelously documents how spontaneous interaction pushes players in new directions.

Visit Imogena and Lars Moller on the web.


Track Listing: 1.Trialogue Chapter 1 2.Trialogue Chapter 2 3.Trialogue Chapter 3

Personnel: Lars Moller: tenor saxophone; Jon Balke: piano and keyboards; Morten Lund: drums

Title: Trialogue | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Imogena

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Orientation CD/LP/Track Review
Orientation
by Troy Dostert
Published: February 18, 2018
Read Romaria CD/LP/Track Review
Romaria
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 18, 2018
Read You Eat My Food, You Drink My Wine, You Steal My Girl! CD/LP/Track Review
You Eat My Food, You Drink My Wine, You Steal My Girl!
by Jerome Wilson
Published: February 18, 2018
Read Autres Paysages CD/LP/Track Review
Autres Paysages
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 18, 2018
Read Elvesang CD/LP/Track Review
Elvesang
by John Kelman
Published: February 17, 2018
Read Necessary Arrangements CD/LP/Track Review
Necessary Arrangements
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 17, 2018
Read "Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs" CD/LP/Track Review Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 23, 2017
Read "Hope" CD/LP/Track Review Hope
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 21, 2017
Read "2" CD/LP/Track Review 2
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 19, 2017
Read "Man No Longer Me" CD/LP/Track Review Man No Longer Me
by Chris Mosey
Published: November 27, 2017
Read "In Praise of Shadows" CD/LP/Track Review In Praise of Shadows
by Dave Wayne
Published: March 19, 2017
Read "Today" CD/LP/Track Review Today
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 2, 2017