Two 4 Five: Compelling Quintets on Losen Records

Friedrich Kunzmann BY

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One quick look at the instrumentation of the two new quintet recordings out on Norwegian label Losen Records reveals several similarities. A significant difference however lies within the chordal duality on the first album and the melodic one on the second. Nevi, a Turkish-Russian collaboration, issues the former duality, demonstrating a more atmospheric approach to modern jazz featuring prominent drumbeats in between frameworks provided by piano and guitar. The all-Norwegian ensemble of Toivo Quintet on the other hand exhibits are more traditional approach to swinging rhythms and melodically colorful compositions with free jazz elements decorating the edges. Both albums rely on high energy rather than a subdued approach and showcase confident bands making high-spirited music.

Istanbul Edition
Losen Records

Beyond the Russian pianist Andrei Kondakov and drummer aleksandr bozhenko , the other members making up Nevi (Turkish for "variety") are of Turkish decent. Turkey's largest city, Istanbul, served as the group's lieu of recording and consequently makes up the title of the record. The music on Istanbul Edition varies from exciting and rhythmically driven ("Africa") to contemplative and elegiac ("Idea"), at times covering the entire range within the sequencing of two tracks. Piano and guitar feed off of each other's impulses throughout the album, giving the trumpet a more ornamental role that ties the music together sonically with the mannerisms of a motif. On "Requiem for KC" guitarist Onur Aymergen channels Kurt Rosenwinkel phraseology and tone before switching to a more traditional fusion sound on a passage of menacing changes in "Entering The Bar."

Kondakov's piano playing is flexible and rather understated, always capable of adjusting language and style to the respective tune. Arpeggios and patient melodies on keys characterize the balladic cuts such as "Hollywood," "Bicycle" or the sole cover of the set, Walter Spriggs' "You Don't Know What Love is." Funk-and blues-infused language alternating with a number of unison passages shared with bass or guitar make up the more physical takes ("Entering the Bar," "Let's Go," "Africa"). Interestingly, "Orka," the sole original by drummer aleksandr bozhenko, has very Methenyesque properties. From the bass-driven pulse in 16 through its melodic subdivision in 9 and 7 to featuring voices vocalizing the main melody (think Pat Metheny Group's "Have you heard") in the song's finale, this song screams Pat Metheny. Despite its indisputable roots it is still a well performed and welcome addition to a diversified record. After all, there are surely worse idols to borrow from. Each member contributes a significant composition to this date, making it a truly collaborative and inspired venture.

Toivo Quintet
Losen Records

At 37 minutes short, this young Norwegian band's debut outing gets straight to the point with a versatile set of swing-based drive that is as compact as it is convincing. "Shipyard," "BGO" or "The Park" belong to the more traditional cuts and see the band at their post-bopping best, blending ride-driven swing with wild bass-walks and well-wrought melodies exchanged and vigorously shared between trumpet and sax to a catchy and sometimes quirky effect. Short interludes ("Intro," "Interlude") belong to the more textural demonstrations on the record which the band develops upon with a cinematic approach on "Kiev."

The set is further loosened up by the beat-driven "210," which sees the guitar switching to distortion and taking the spotlight with an extensive solo to percussive drum work. "GBG" closes the album on a conclusive note, exhibiting the accumulation of sounds and styles presented before. Toivo Quintet have plenty to say and each individual adds significant points to consistently intriguing conversations. A very accomplished debut offering which promises even more great things to come.

Istanbul Edition

Tracks: Africa; Idea; Requiem For KC; Entering The Bar; Hollywood; Orka; Let's Go; Bicycle; Hidden Emotion; You Don't Know What Love Is.

Personnel: Andrei Kondakov: piano; Onur Aymergen: guitar; Tolga Bilgin: trumpet; Ozan Musluoglu: bass; Aleksandr Bozhenko: drums.


Tracks: Intro; Shipyard; BGO; Interlude; 210; Kiev; The Park; Solo; GBG.

Personnel: Arne Toivo Jose Sandberg: bass; Aksel Øvreås Røed: saxophone; Andreas Hesselberg Hatzikiriakidis: trumpet; Mathias Marstrander: guitar, pedal steel; Sigurd Steinkopf: drums.

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