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Jakob Bro: Uma Elmo

Mark Sullivan BY

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Jakob Bro: Uma Elmo
After a break of a few years, Danish guitarist & composer Jakob Bro returns to ECM Records with a new trio. Bay Of Rainbows (ECM Records, 2018) was a live recording documenting his trio with double bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Joey Baron, while Returnings (ECM Records, 2018) was a quartet reuniting Bro with Morgan and drummer Jon Christensen (who had played on his ECM debut) plus trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg. The sound here almost splits the difference; Bro is joined by Norwegian trumpeter Arve Henriksen and Spanish drummer Jorge Rossy.

Bro has often reused songs to see how they would change when reinterpreted in a new ensemble, something he learned while playing with the late drummer Paul Motian. This album opens with "Reconstructing a Dream," a tune he wrote for a 2007 session that included Motian. It is an atmospheric rubato exercise, with Henriksen's trumpet floating over Bro's spacious guitar and Rossey's textural drums. It closes with Bro's looped soundscape and a sparse trumpet line. "To Stanko" is a celebration of trumpeter Tomasz Stanko, who Bro played with for over five years. Henriksen does not even try to play like Stanko, but the feeling is there. "Beautiful Day" was written in 1998 (making it the oldest song here) while studying at the Berklee College of Music with George Garzone.

"Morning Song" is a new one, which got its title from producer Manfred Eicher, due to the song being played first thing on the mornings of both days of the recording sessions There are two versions, each recorded in one take. They are both built around a haunting melody played by both trumpet and guitar, with rubato accompaniment from guitar loops and sparse drums. The variant version that closes the album includes a slightly denser guitar soundscape than the first version, but they are both worth hearing.

"Housework" is another new song, the title taken from Bro's duties at home during the pandemic with two young children. It opens with very low trumpet sounds, unlike anything Henriksen played earlier in the program. As it progresses Bro takes more solo space than previously, although still building a group texture which comes to a loud climax before ending in a melody doubled by trumpet and guitar (with a short guitar soundscape conclusion). "Music For Black Pigeons" (which comes from saxophonist Lee Konitz's humorous description of Bro's music) opens with what is technically a drum solo. But Rossey's approach is as much about space and texture as the other instruments in the band, as it was all through the program.

Like the music, Bro's album title is very personal; it is made up of the middle names of his children. The youngest is seven months old, and much of the music was composed during his naps as a newborn. Planned during the pandemic, this was an album whose recording seemed unlikely. Yet it happened, somehow; a small miracle.

Track Listing

Reconstructing a Dream; To Stanko; Beautiful Day; Morning Song; Housework; Music for Black Pigeons; Sound Flower; Slaraffenland; Morning Song (var.).


Jakob Bro: guitar; Arve Henriksen: trumpet; Jorge Rossy: percussion.

Additional Instrumentation

Arve Henriksen; also piccolo trumpet

Album information

Title: Uma Elmo | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: ECM Records

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