Wako is a Norwegian jazz collective with a truly collective sound. Saxophonist Martin Myhre Olsenheard as a leader on MMO Ensemble's Any Day Now (Øra Fonogram, 2018)and pianist Kjetil Mulelidleader of the Kjetil Mulelid Trio's Not Nearly Enough To Buy A House (Rune Grammofon, 2017)each contribute three compositions. But the group identity is equally present on the jointly created tracks that dominate this program, their third album.
Opener "Jernvilje" is a brief, atmospheric rubato exercise by the whole band. Muledid's "Skavlet Føre" brings in a regular pulse, but is still a subtle group exploration. The full theme is not introduced until near the end, followed by a gradually collapsing rhythm section. Olsen sits out "Skumring Og Det Som Hører Til," allowing the rhythm section an abstract exploration. "Du Gråter Aldri" is the first group composition that sounds composed, a lyrical rubato exercise led by the piano.
Olsen's compositions are clustered together in the middle of the set. "Elisabeths Vise" leads off with a catchy theme that dissolves into abstraction, followed by "Revelje" with its repeated rhythmic calland a rapid bebop theme at the end. "Snart Blir Jeg Far" ends the group with a lovely traditional jazz ballad feeling.
Muledid's "En Liten Halvtime Senere" has a chorale sound, reminiscent of pianist Keith Jarrett's "European Quartet" with Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek. After a couple of loose group tracks, the final collective piece, "De Som Viste Oss Rundt," projects an elegiac air. Muledid's "Langt, Langt Der Nede" closes the album with a delicate rumination. Double bassist Bárður Reinert Poulsen and drummer Simon Olderskog Albertsen play an especially large role here, the often independent-sounding drumming in particular.
There is a rare conciseness and focus in this music. The longest track is under five minutes, and several are less than two minutes long. Yet the album feels complete, as a whole and track by track. The arrangements allow everyone in the band space to express themselves, without placing undue emphasis on solos.
Jernvilje; Skavlet Føre; Skumring Og Det Som Hører Til; Den Endeløse Planen; Du Gråter Aldri; Elisabeths Vise; Revelje; Snart Blir Jeg Far; En Liten Halvtime Senere; Skogens Uklare Omriss; Svovelpredikant; De Som Viste Oss Rundt; Langt, Langt Der Nede.
Martin Myhre Olsen: alto sax, soprano sax; Kjetil André Mulelid: piano; Bárður Reinert Poulsen: double bass; Simon Olderskog Albertsen: drums, percussion.
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