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Julie Sassoon (p) & Willi Kellers (d)

Jazzwerkstatt55, Peitz Germany, June 2018. Photo By Cristina Marx

Evan Parker

Jazzwerkstatt55, Peitz Germany, June 2018. Photo By Cristina Marx

Eli Wallace (p) & Sandy Ewen (g)

Spectrum, NYC, May 2018. Photo by Peter Gannushkin

Monday, July 23, 2018

The New Danish Thing - Saxophonist Signe Emmeluth


Danish, Oslo-based alto saxophone player Signe Emmeluth is only 25 years old but already established herself as a leading improviser and composer. She leads the quartet Konge with such heavy-weights as Swedish sax titan Mats Gustavsson, Norwegian double bass player Ole Morten Vågan and Danish drummer Kresten Osgood, and has collaborated with other innovative European improvisers as Norwegian Paal Nilssen-Love, British double bass player John Edwards and and fellow-Danish sax player Mette Rasmussen.

Emmeluth's Amoeba - POLYP (Øra Fonogram, 2018) ****



Emmeluth's Amoeba is Emmeluth debut album as a leader and features Danish pianist Christian Balvig, Norwegian guitarist Karl Bjorå, who plays with Emmeluth on the duo Owl duo is known also from the punk-jazz trio Yes Deer, Norwegian-Copenhagen based drummer Ole Mofjell, who has played with Bjorå in the short-lived trio Brute Force.

POLYP was recorded in Trondheim on October 2017 and offers a set of ten free-improvisations and compositions informed by contemporary music. The title of the album reflects its spirit, flowing but lacking a sense of gravity, just like the dancing movements of the naval plant. But this quartet covers for the shaky, constant-shifting gravity with an immediate mode of operation, letting the musicians’ big ears, well-tuned intuition and passionate curiosity solidify the course of music, wherever it may flow.

Emmeluth says that she hears “music and sounds in shapes and colours, and I’m therefore often inspired by visuals”. Her music do changes its shapes and colors rapidly, always expanding its boundaries and vocabularies. But throughout these changes Emmeluth’s Amoeba moves as a tight, fearless unit. The quartet visits many different terrains. It sounds serene and cerebral on the title piece and on “The Angler Fish”, confrontational and raw on “Magma”, suggesting a fiery-brutal sax-drums duet on “Kolibri”, sketching a gentle, lyrical theme on “Dans”, enjoying the cacophonic tension of “Jerome”and “Silhouette” and sounds playful on the most jazz-y piece here “Ladybug”. “Embryo” is the most complex and ambitious piece here, shifting constantly and organically between collective sonic searches, g a delicate, almost transparent theme and surprising bursts of raw power.

Emmeluth herself sound as a strong, opinionated improviser and bandleader who is well-versed in the legacy of Peter Brötzmann and Gustafsson.

Listen to the music here.

Tigerfish & Lioncats - Stop Walk (Self Produced, 2018) ***½


Tigerfish & Lioncats is Emmeluth’s duo with Norwegian drummer Vetle Larsen. This duo began playing together in 2015, exploring elements of contrasts, impulse persecution, timbre, and spontaneity within free-improvisation. Tigerfish & Lioncats’ model was the British duo of sax player Trevor Watts and John Stevens, in its turn informed by the iconic, fiery Interstellar Space sessions between John Coltrane and Rashied Ali.

Tigerfish & Lioncats’ debut album, Stop Walk, was recorded in Austin, Texas, on September 2016, immediately after the duo performance at the local Sonic Transmissions festival. The festival founder and curator, bass player Ingebrigt Håker Flaten produced the session and played on four pieces.

The duo interplay is more urgent and open than the one of Emmeluth's Amoeba. Emmeluth and Larsen sound as challenging each, again with shifting improvising strategies. Tigerfish & Lioncats can be innocent, playful and all over the place on “1+1=3” and the title-piece, lyrical and emotional on “Funeral” and “Ballad” or simply restless and searching on “Metal”. Håker Flaten adds more depth and color when he plays the electric bass. On “Lille My” he charges the emphatic interplay of the duo with manic energy, pushing all to extreme, cathartic meltdown. He colors the sparse interplay of “Parallel” with mysterious, distorted sounds and intensifies the rhythmic dance of “Afro”. The “Ballad with Bass”, with Håker Flaten on the double bass, is the most beautiful and touching piece, shining with its serene peacefulness.













Sunday, July 22, 2018

John Coltrane Quartet – Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album: Marking a Transition


 
The more I stare at the cover photo of this release, the more I become obsessed with it’s capture of what I think is the spirit of these four musicians working together. Focused but relaxed they seem, while the photographer chooses an angle that does not discriminate the big name from the others. A rather egalitarian choice but not one by coincidence.

Coltrane’s classic quartet stands out as his best. My personal favourite, though, will always be the late incarnation of his free music with Rashied Ali, Pharoah, Alice and the small rotation of musicians. But the quartet consisted of four amazing artists which, at some point, drifted apart following artistic and even personal differences. It happens in real life, why not in music?

But during the time these recordings took place, March 1963, this was not the case. It was a time of transition (a key word for me) for the Coltrane sound, but also a time that these guys were the thing to catch in modern jazz. Their music, as heard in already existing recordings but also in this one, was the post-Bird bop that was transforming itself into something that incorporated more freedom like the struggle for civil rights of the African-American people in the States demanded. Unlike others Coltrane chose never to engage in political causes but music has its ways of non-spoken communication. The quartet’s music was one of the prime choices for those concerned with the movement.

But that was not Coltrane’s choice. Not long ago, while I was trying to put together another piece for John Coltrane, I came across an interview of the great late Rashied Ali. At some point he stated about “Coltrane’s resolution” but, unfortunately, without making clear what he meant. Putting my own thoughts on other people’s words, I always believed that while his physical health deteriorated, his spirit was lifting all of the people listening to his music higher. As he was coming closer to his death he gave more and more. That was his resolution for me.

The importance of this recording is not so much about the music. It is the chronological value of it. As I already mentioned, it seems to mark the beginning of a transition, a path that eventually led him (but of course not alone) to a music free from all constraints, a spiritual message of freedom, devotion, pathos and love like no other. By early 1963 John Coltrane had already started taking big steps in this path and while he accelerated his fellow musicians couldn’t keep up thankfully for us, since he found others who could.

It must be mentioned that the title of this release is a well chosen one. When you put the record on -especially on the never heard before excellent tracks- you definitely feel that this is a two way street. One looking back, the other going straight-ahead forward. We don’t have second thoughts though. Impulse is going to make some money out of it, as this is for me the archival recording of the year. I just wish they’d be more “lost” records form the era of Ascension and on. Until then play this record on your turntable again and again as there are a lot of impressions but meditations were still to flourish.

@ koultouranafigo

John Coltrane Quartet – Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album: Thoughts on a Beautiful Creation

 By Tom Burris

Who is buying the single-disc version of this album – and why? We all know the double-disc version is for us – the fanatics, the disciples, the total music nerds who can't do without a single note the great man played. You'll know when you play it that the first record is “an album” with all the baggage that this word carries. And it will be thought of this way by future generations of Coltrane listeners, in the same way we consider Trane's other posthumous LPs – including Interstellar Space – as completely cohesive statements that stand up next to works the man himself envisioned as unified collective works in the 1960s.

My first listening experience to the album was probably not too unusual. I expected to be enveloped in the magic of the classic quartet & I was. It also sounded like the transitional work it has already been lauded in the press as being, straddling the line between the quartet's sessions for Atlantic in the early '60s & the more adventurous material Coltrane would go on to create for the Impulse label. After Side A ended, I flipped the record over. The lights were dim and I didn't have my glasses on & couldn't read the label. I thought “I hope they had the good sense to put “Impressions” at the beginning of Side B” a mere second before that familiar theme began to blast out of the speakers. “Yes!” I shouted, forcing my ugly meat-fist in the dog's face for a bump of solidarity.

The single-disc version of Both Directions At Once is for the ages and the whole world. It brings me as much joy as seeing that new documentary on Mr. Rogers did. Once upon a time there were beautiful creations made by compassionate people who filled the world up with messages of love and inclusiveness. Also, a long time ago Miles Davis said “All of us jazz guys are gonna have to line up and kiss Duke's ass.” I think I'm ready to do that for Naima Coltrane's family for bringing this album into existence. Who's coming with me?

Saturday, July 21, 2018

John Coltrane Quartet - Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album: A Note

By Stuart Broomer

The release of Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album and its reception say a lot about the current state of the record business and the current state of jazz. It debuted at No. 21 on the Billboard Top 200 and was No. 1 on both the Traditional Jazz and Jazz charts. For me, the most remarkable thing about those figures is that they came from Forbes, a financial magazine, not some place I’d expect to read about a Coltrane record. The figures highlight the need for iconic creative figures in jazz at a time when the “business” is focused on “sophisticated” easy listening, while the creative energies of improvised music—in part the legacy of John Coltrane—live vigorously outside the marketplace. Fifty-five years after the fact, it testifies to the ability of four musicians to track an hour and a half of music in a single session, and the ongoing desire for physical media (It’s available as CD or LP and in a deluxe edition with an additional CD or LP of alternate takes). It also suggests a surfeited audience that can grasp at another example of a single dead artist’s work while missing so much of what’s currently going on. 

Coltrane’s quartet conception was incredibly important in jazz, and not just because it went in “both directions at once,” but because it went in numerous directions “at once.” In the late ‘50s jazz was in a period of tremendous ferment, creatively developing both its own resources and its social meaning, increasingly turning to different forms of blues, gospel, social protest and experimentation. You hear it most explicitly in the music of Charles Mingus, Max Roach and Sonny Rollins—you were getting jazz that was being reshaped by a changing consciousness, from the civil rights movement to the sudden availability of world music recordings.

What Coltrane developed in the quartet was depth experience, and it came in two forms: one was the absolutely exploratory side of his tenor playing, the long solos that stretched to the limits of density, velocity and intensity (e.g. the 1961 Village Vanguard “Impressions” and “Chasin’ the Trane,” the latter listened to closely to the end, so that after the 16-minute onslaught you hear the single-note cheer from Eric Dolphy’s alto); the flip-side of that was the drone-based soprano saxophone music that was a kind of homing-in: the resemblance of the instrumental roles in “My Favorite Things,” for example, where the band is virtually drawing an absolute connection between the dynamics of a jazz group and the spreading calm of Indian classical music, which is built around a dialogue between a melodic instrument and drums with an accompanying drone that centers that dialogue. Part of the greatness of Trane was his willingness to go on forever, making a set a single tune.

The quartet complemented that drive and its particular form: it was all about insistence: bassist Jimmy Garrison’s pulse, pianist McCoy Tyner’s reductive chordal repetition and drummer Elvin Jones’ polyrhythms, the way he could press ahead and backwards at the same time. The Coltrane quartet was a pressure cooker, a machine for intensity, a house of intensity in which Coltrane could express his own sense of pressure which was also the pressure of the time—both terrifying and ecstatic. In recent times you get bands that are much more “free” in their approach to structures, but which rearrange that sense of creative pressure—like the late David S. Ware’s quartet with Matt Shipp and William Parker, or the trio of Evan Parker, Barry Guy and Paul Lytton. In free jazz rich Lisbon, musicians like Rodrigo Amado’s Motion Trio and the Red Trio are long-range developments of that kind of focussed intensity. When the musical pressure in the Coltrane quartet became too great it blew apart, becoming something else, the final quintet, with appropriate valves and openings.

Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album, in the two-CD version, is about 90 minutes of music recorded in a single day, intense, complex, coiling music with multiple takes of two untitled originals and short studio versions of pieces well known from long live or later recordings, “Impressions,” “Nature Boy” and “One Up, One Down.” It’s an intimate look at Coltrane’s creative process in the studio, the different approaches to the same material, and the way he was always finding new ways to put the music together. The longest track, the 11-minute “Slow Blues,” is literally multi-dimensional in the way it both directly invokes the expressive tradition of blues and the way in which Coltrane will suddenly insert twisted, harmonically-outside phrases, so that it’s literally two blues at once, one deeply traditional, one highly personal.

One of the things the Lost Album highlights is the operations of record companies in the history of jazz.

While Both Directions at Once represents Coltrane’s demanding, deeply personal art, Impulse Records much preferred to market him as a mainstream artist, literally one who played brief renditions of familiar tunes, sometimes with only melodically decorative variations. The previous studio sessions to Both Directions at Once that were released immediately were Ballads and Duke Ellington & John Coltrane; Coltrane and the quartet recorded Both Directions at Once on March 6, 1963; the next day, they were back in the studio to record John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman, with the great neglected, jazz balladeer. These are all beautiful records, but they’re also virtually “easy listening” music (I mean nothing pejorative by this: it’s a broad category that describes an experience rather than an art: depending on use Scarlatti, Mozart, Debussy and Ellington can function as “easy listening music”). My point, rather, is that Both Directions at Once reflects a Coltrane that his own record company was barely interested in trying to sell.

In the day-to-day life of the band, the next studio session, from April 1963, had the veteran Roy Haynes temporarily replacing Elvin Jones.

Some of this material developed in an interview with Gonçalo Frota of Lisbon's Público (www.publico.pt).

Friday, July 20, 2018

Kongsberg Jazz Festival, July 2018


By Paul Acquaro

Early(ish) on an unseasonable warm and bright Saturday morning in Norway, the final day of the Kongsberg Jazz Festival, I was at a kiosk poking at the festival T-Shirts. I was looking at the colorful wheel logo of the main festival shirts, but was also intrigued by the more suggestive line drawing of a person with a cigarette on a different one. "That is the special shirt," said the woman tending the booth, "it means you were a part of the festival that’s not for everyone." She was speaking about the Saeringfest - the festival within the festival - the one where John Butcher and Joe Mcphee played, along with Kaja Draxler and Susana Santos Silva, as well as Mat Maneri and Ståle Liavik Solberg, among many others - had played the previous evening. "Yes," I replied, "I'll take that one."

Kongsberg is a small industrial city about an hour West-North-West from Oslo nestled in a valley. Coming down into town you see the ski slopes (now green with leaves and grass) and then a dense orderly jumble of homes and industry. In the middle of the city is a wide fast flowing Numedalslågen river with a set of man-made and natural waterfalls that had at one point driven the industry. It was an old mining town, and I was told that now the main industry is making bombs. Wikipedia does mention that Kongsberg is where a large defense contractor is located, so I am assuming that my informant was correct. This particular early week in July, the whole town is transformed by the Kongsberg Jazz Festival into a bustling zone of street food vendors, techno-music blaring indoor/outdoor venues, and a confluence of people attending all of the festivals within the festival. It was a brilliantly programmed to bring together almost anyone ... for example, you could see Aha, Sting and Shaggy, and the Dum Dum Boys and nothing else if you'd like. Or you could focus on the well oiled jazz machine of the Chick Corea Akoustic Band, Mike Stern and Randy Brecker, and Greg Osby. Or you could go further off the beaten path.

Often, that non-beaten path was down to the historic building which housed the old silver smelters in the old part of the city by the river’s edge (as close you can get, for some reason a swift moving road lines one side of the river). Here is where the Saeringfest was held as Aha was lighting up the night nearby next to the historic Kongsberg Church. However, this is not where this story begins…

THURSDAY, July 5th 

Clashes (accordionist Ida Lovli Hidle & Ensemble Allegria)
I arrived in Kongsberg around 3 p.m. on Thursday. I had really hoped to see guitarist Hedvig Mollsted and her trio performing, Mollestad's music tends towards metal ‘jazz’ and this concert promised to be an interesting commission based on the paintings of Ornulf Opdahl. I was not familiar with his work before, but it does seem to complement Mollestadt's heavy approach. Instead, I began my day at the historic Kongsberg Church, seeing "Clashes", a classical/jazz mix that also involved a bit of theater. The opening sequence featured accordionist Ida Lovli Hidle, who dressed in old fashioned clothing, wandered up to the stage where she met up with the chicly clad Ensemble Allegria. Admonishing words were pantomimed between the lead violinist and the accordionist and the light tune she had been playing turned self-conscious and fearful. Riffing off the clash between the orchestra and soloist, they engaged in a captivating give and take. The rich interplay grew tenser and tenser and the orchestra began verbalizing. Then, they whispered harshly "Do you think you can just come in for free?" Then, hitting a musical stride, the tone turned darker, and they said "go away!" It was hard to not hear it without thinking about the current sentiments in Europe about migrants and refugees. The irony of course is how incredibly lovely the music that they made together in this turbulent dance.

Erlend Apneseth Trio
Photo: Ron Jansen
As the group started on their next piece, I made my way to the modern concert/movie hall a little further over the hill, to see the Erlend Apneseth Trio. Apneseth plays the Hardanger fiddle, a traditional Norwegian instrument with 8 or 9 strings - four playable strings like a violin and the others sympathetic ones vibrating below the fretboard. The trio, with guitar and drums, had reached a droning crescendo at the point in which I entered the hall, and carried these vibrations to a climax. With an array of acoustic instruments and a pile of electronics next to the guitarist, the group drew deeply on folk music but with obviously more modern rhythms and treatments to create mesmerizing songs. Charged with long repeating segments and exhilarating accelerations, the group played an exciting, but simultaneously, relaxing set. 

Jon Rune Strøm Quintet
Photo: Hans Christian Graaner
I followed this up with the Jon Run Strøm Quintet at the Energimolla rock club set in a historic brick building at the very bottom of the valley, on the other side of the river. Bassist and group leader Strom writes catchy and quite rhythmic jazz that plays off traditional free jazz and hard bop, and is brought to life by trumpeter Thomas Johansson, saxophonist André Roligheten, second bassist Christian Meaas Svendsen, and drummer Andreas Wildhagen. All four players are deeply entwined in the Oslo music scene which hosts other high octane jazz groups like Cortex, Gard Nillsen's Acoustic Unit, and Friends & Neighbors (to name just a few!). The set opened with the two bassists playing kicking up a cloud of musical dust, while the horn players stood in between with eyes closed. The drums came in, one bass began a more tuneful bass-line and then, the sax with a theme that at times pushed the technical edges of the sax but never went totally over the top. The trumpet took over and with laser like focus pushed the band up to the next notch: the music was alive! The compositions are vehicles for the horns, and Strom’s rhythmic concepts allow for a great deal of freedom and invention but never leaving the 'tune' behind. This is true for the basses too, Svensen delivered a deep and sinewy accompaniment-free solo and then was joined by Strom for a tasty contrast of styles, which finally wrapped seamlessly back into the group. Check out their recent Clean Feed recording here.


En Corps
Photo: Morten Kolve
The last concert I attended was on my highly anticipated list - no, not Sting and Shaggy who were playing up by the church, but rather En Corps, with pianist Eve Risser, double bass player Benjamin Duboc, and drummer Edward Perraud. The piano trio lit up the end of year lists on the blog back in 2012 and only followed up in 2017 with their second album. Risser just released a duo album with pianist Kaja Draksler and a tremendous large ensemble album White Desert Orchestra two years ago. The group began by playing with expectations - a quiet rattle from the prepared piano, gentle droning notes from the bass, and a splash of high-hat. As the music picked up not a sound or note was out of place, be it a scape of the drum or pluck of a muted piano string, each carried the music a bit further with purpose and poise. When the change came, the stage had been set, and it came as a sweet surprise: fleshier chords, thicker bass lines, and the percussion switched from a pulse to a rhythm. The repetitive piano figures were interspersed with intricate passages and the group soon became a tightly controlled tornado of sound. The climax came over an hour into the long arc of the piece, after an intense drum solo and an ecstatic piano pressing again and again on a chord until it was bouncing off the brick walls and low ceiling of the Smeltehytta.



FRIDAY, July 6 

Scheen Jazzorkester & Thomas Johansson
Photo: Odd Eirik Skjolde
At 2 p.m. the 12 members of the Scheen Jazz Orchestra, led by trumpeter Thomas Johansson, filled the deep stage of the Energimolla. The first blast of the band announced the bombastic anthem which they would return to again later. It quickly changed into a driving groove and a core piano, bass, drum and guitar (Even Helte Hermansen of Bushman's Revenge bringing some of the power!) Johansson was stationed towards the side, directing the band, and signaling the return to the theme which rose in energy each time it came around. They broke into a freer section featuring an out solo by the alto saxophonist. Then Johansson and the tenor saxophonist engaged in some free playing, bouncing sounds off of each other, picking up on each other’s ideas. Other textures came into play as well, a flute during a reflective moment, a piano led small group interlude, all adding to the shifting tonal pallet. The packed house burst into applause at the end and as the band began an encore song.


Chick Corea Acoustic Band
Photo: Birgit Fostervold @knipselyst
After a quick bit of trumpeter Mazen Kerbaj and drummer (and one of the festival organizers) Stale Liavik Solberg performing at a small art gallery nearby (I was only able to catch the final moment of their performance), I checked out the Chick Corea Akoustic Band performing in the large Kongsberg Musikkteater. I owe a lot to Corea, in fact one of my first CDs that I ever owned was Romantic Warrior from Return to Forever, bought used at Pier Platters in Hoboken, NJ. I was malleable enough to dig the baroque fusion and it led me to Corea's first Akoustic Band album. The group, Corea, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Dave Weckl began with 'Morning Sprite' off their eponymous album. A highlight was Corea’s tune 'Life Line', which featured the angular melody and exciting syncopations he is known for. However, it was Pattitucci's bass solos that had the audience erupting into applause each time. I had hoped to catch the festival's featured artist Marius Neset sitting in Corea. Neset has been described as " reinvigorating the post-70s fusion ‘big tenor’ tradition of Michael Brecker, Chris Potter and Jan Garbarek", and I could imagine it being a nice match. However, things were piling up and I was eager to get on to the next event.

Saeringfest

The Saeringfest, back in the Smeltehytta, was the center piece (for me) of the Kongsberg Jazz Meeting part of the festival, perfectly programmed for adventurous listeners. Drummers Solberg and Paal Nilssen-Love - whom also curate the Blow Out! festival in Oslo in August, booked this festival within the festival, and themselves book-ended the venturesome performances. The care and thought behind this series was evident from the line up to the sequence to the setting. In the dark, medieval-feeling setting of the old smelter.

Pascal Niggenkemper (b), John Butcher (s), Agnes Hvizdalek (v), Joe McPhee (t/s), Stale Liavik Solberg (d, not in pic)
Photo: Mats Even Omberg
Opening the event was a quintet consisting of vocalist Agnes Hvizdalek, trumpeter/saxophonist Joe McPhee, bassist Pascal Niggenkemper, saxophonist John Butcher, and Solberg. Hvizdalek began with an array of sounds from click and chirps sounding like her own language, as the others filled in behind. Butcher made the first move away from the groups’ collective churn, playing a series of overtones while answering in his own dialect. McPhee then took over with a spirited passage on trumpet and saxophone, alternating between melodic lines, overblown sax, and the occasional vocal outburst. The vocal solo was the most unusual collection of pops and clicks, and was a good match for Solberg who peppered his playing with scrapes and slides in response, and Niggenkemper, with his trademark lamp shades, provided both bass and buzz to the underlying sound. The music was a beautifully connected collective effort, together spinning an unusual world of sound.

Randy Peterson, Mat Maneri
Next up was the duo of violist Mat Maneri and percussionist Randy Peterson - a collaboration with a long history which showed throughout their strong performance. Maneri played deeply engaging melodies and Peterson pushed and prodded the violist. Moments of quiet inflection befit the spare instrumentation, but they also filled the room with a booming intensity. The flow of ideas was non-stop with Maneri dramatically using double stops and sonorous legato notes. However, it was a solo by Peterson that was the highlight of the set – so inspired that the audience burst out in such appreciative applause that the musicians just stopped, nothing more needed to be said.


Kaja Drakler and Susana Santos Silva
Following the energetic arc of Maneri and Peterson came the piano and trumpet duo of Kaja Drakler and Susana Santos Silva. The duo released 'This Love' on Clean Feed a few years ago and their connection as a duo was as intense as the previous one, but expressed differently. Drakler's prepared piano provided a vibrating underlayment to Silva’s microtonal explorations, creating together an ethereal atmosphere. Together, they seemed to be looking inward and listening closely to each other. The pianist struck a delicate balance between notes and prepared sounds, and Santos responded lithely. A blast of extended technique followed, a rumble of the piano’s lower end and shaping of the strings along with fuzzy blasts from the trumpet came together in an fervent union.

Arashi: Paal Nilssen-Love, Johan Berthling, and Akira Sakata
The last group was Arashi, the turbulent trifecta of saxophonist Akira Sakata, bassist Johan Berthling, and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love. The group’s name means “Storm” in Japanese and they lived up to it wholeheartedly starting with a blast of sound that could have been mistaken for the historic smelter firing up. It was classic free jazz brimming with technique and passion. PnL was a precise percussion machine, giving the group its throbbing pulse. However, the duo of Berthling and Sakata could have held their own. Sakata saxophone played with a mixture of passion and technique (a mix of Brotzmann and Vandermark) in an interrupted flow (like Irabagon), while tearing at the instruments seams. His clarinet playing revealed a more introspective side, just as expressive, though a bit gentler. At one point, Sakata turned in a vocal performance, throat singing nonetheless and then deep growling words in Japanese, that was at once startling and perfectly organic. The group’s control was impressive, and their ability to dial it in and turn it up gave the show a dramatic flourish the encapsulated a thoroughly engrossing evening of music.

Leaving the hall into the light Norwegian night, the famous opening rift to Ah-Ha’s “Take Me On” wafted over the streets and, though I had had enough sound for the day, I still wandered over to the Energimolla for a musical night cap by the energetic "Afrobeat, Ethio-jazz and big band funk" fun of the Goran Kajfes Subtropic Orchestra.


SATURDAY, July 7

I awoke Saturday looking forward to the trio of the legendary pianist Bobo Stetson and drummer Jon Christensen, with the soon to be legendary Fredrik Ljungkvist (I’m basically ripping this description from the program notes). Again at the Energimolla, I made sure to get to the club a bit early to get one of the coveted barstools on the upper level, and sat with two long-term Kongsberg Jazz Festival attendees from Tromso. Chatting a bit, they told me about older festivals and how this one had grown so much over the years. Our conversation soon turned to what we’ve been listening to, rare record finds, and up and coming musicians we’re excited about. Avant-garde music, the universal language on unity.

Bobo Stenson, Jon Christensen, Fredrik Ljungkvist
Photo: Birgit Fostervold @knipselyst
Stetson's trio began with slow and spaciously with flowing runs and pointed notes. Ljungkvist's playing was energetic but restrained, you could feel the potential energy behind it as he pushed at the light structures being floated by the pianist. Christensen's spare clatter against the drum’s rims, along with the cymbal splashes added color but also hinted at a greater force to come. After the first minor flare up, Ljungkvist switched to clarinet, and the woodsy sound melded nicely with the with piano and drums. The music took on a classical bend, delicate an assured, each note meant to savored and enjoyed. The pianist and reed player bounced off each other as Christensen's drumming provided a running commentary. They segued into a bluesy tune that moved at torch ballad speed, and Stetson found some Monk-ish voicings to offer. An energetic tune followed, with strongly articulated angular lines from the saxophone and fierce block chords from the piano. The dry spare sound of the group veered between the romantic and adventurous always with thoughtful motion and grace. A rather perfect start to the day of music.

Avanthagen: Oslo 15 & Sofia Jernberg
Photo: Magnus Stivi
Next, I made my way back to the site of last night's Saeringfest and took a seat for a series of performances that could in a sense be considered an encore to the previous night, even reprising some of the musicians. First up was Avanthagen: Oslo 15 & Sofia Jernberg. The all vocal group gave me pause, at first, as I am not the most amendable to vocal improvised music, however the presence of Jernberg, whose work with the Fire! Orchestra and some other groups over the years has impressed me. The group began with a weary sounding "ahh", followed by chirps, guttural moans, and a buzzing like a hive of bees. My curiosity was piqued and defenses lowered. They proceeded with an evolving set of sounds, seemingly led by certain unusual sounds, which I attributed to Jernberg. There was some sort of use of an iPad as well, perhaps guiding the musicians to act together, creating sounds and passages along varied tonal themes. Individual voices would rise above the group, sometimes conveying strife, consonances, and sometimes just weirdly alien sounds. I overcame quickly my original prejudice, and enjoyed this effecting and engaging performance. 

Mazen Kerbaj
Photo: Magnus Stivi
Lebanese trumpeter Mazen Kerbaj, of the "A" Trio, came up next with his instrument and a table full of accessories - like plastic tubing, lids, and little rattly things. His prepared trumpet consisted of, at first, attaching the long tube between the trumpet and a saxophone mouthpiece. Placing the lid above the horn's bell, which sat upright on his lap, he began blowing into the tube. More like an industrial era engine than an instrument, the sound was a mechanical whir that he kept adding more to, as he slowly manipulated the sound through the intensity of the air pressure. His Rube Goldberg approach to the trumpet was visually captivating, as its operation was magical, and sonically unusual. 

John Butcher and Akira Sakata
Rounding out the short series was a duo of woodwind players John Butcher and Akira Sakata. At the previous night's mini-fest, they both played contrasting shows, Butcher probing and Sakata fiery. Meeting up here, their two distinct styles came together well. Starting out quietly, they soon reached an assured middle ground. With Butcher on tenor and Sakata on alto, they moved through rapid scales, flirted with extended techniques, and blurred notes together. Moments of swirling saxophonics were hypnotizing - and when the pitch really rose - demanding. At one point, Sakata took out a small bell, and with throat-singing and an idiosyncratic language of sounds, gave Butcher a unique challenge to respond to on his soprano sax. They ended as they began, Butcher on tenor, Sakata on Alto, confidently twisting about each other, looping over, under, and through each other’s musical threads.

Tanaka, Lea, Strønen
Photo: Christian Haukeli
The evening's concerts began with the trio of drummer Thomas Strønen, pianist Ayumi Tanaka, and saxophonist Marthe Lea. The delicately expressive group played fittingly against a huge floor to ceiling windows looking out on what could be an ECM album cover - if you took away the ubiquitous construction crane in the middle of the frame. They began with a minimal repetitive figure under floating chords, gentle notes from the sax, and a guiding pulse from the drums. Suddenly, they built up to a fast peak, then, they let it go. Strønen's drumming, on a kit extended with a giant concert bass drum, is an expressive and reliable well of inspiration. He guided the group suggestively from his seat, while Tanaka's approach on the piano seemed to gentle extract the notes from the keyboard, rather than percussively striking them. Lea's tone on the saxophone was strong and a perfect complement to the crystalline tension between Tanaka and Strønen. Lea's restlessness on stage had a little bit of a distracting effect however, walking around when not playing sax, she struck strings within the piano, and tossed percussion elements around stage, which seemed a bit extraneous. Regardless, just the opening moments of this young trio’s music was enough to soothe any fears about a next generation carrying forth the cool "Nordic Sound", their gentleness, quiet urgency, and reserved storminess demonstrated the music is in good hands. 

Marius Neset Trio (not in pic)
Photo: Svein Bjørnsen
One of the feature concerts was artist in residence saxophonist Marius Naset's trio with guitarist Lionel Loueke and cellist Svante Henryson, which was held in what amounted to a steel cage inside the town's mid-century circular movie house (which has probably been replaced by the gorgeous new movie theaters across town where I caught a screening of the John Abercrombie documentary "Open Land" - a must see for appreciators of the late guitarist). Playing Naset's compositions, the music was a mixture of classical, jazz, and folk - with a strong strain of Americana emanating primarily from Henryson but also reflected in some of Loueke's voicings and skeletal chord choices. The guitarist also vocalized behind his guitar lines. Naset wove delicately behind and before the strings, sometimes shadowing the chord melodies, and other times soaring over them. The music was convincingly modern with its syncopations and occasional rock-like passages, but at the same time folkish in it directness and earthiness. A short solo piece from the cellist, steeped in American folk and bluegrass, with counterpoint, double stops, and a finger picked like melody, was jaw dropping. The groups smooth transitions obliterated the stylistic boundaries but at the same time, their virtuosity never obscured their music.

Christian Wallumrod and Madga Mayas
Photo: Magnus Stivi
Back at the smelter, pianist Magda Mayas and electronics wizard Christian Wallumrod were refining the air around them. Mayas plucked at the strings in the piano while Wallumrod produced dark electronic noises. There was no hard delineation between the acoustics and electronics, it all blended into a steaming ingot of sound. Mayas moved from the piano to the Clavinet, however the overall effect of their efforts was to stay the course, with a rhythm established by the electro-acoustic pulsations and the unconventional extracting of sounds from their instruments.

Like the night before, the day ended at the Energiemolla, this time with violinist Ola Kvenberg’s energetic show the was a cross between a jam band, virtuosic prog rock, and early fusion. A perfect ending to a musically adventurous and exhausting festival.

It’s worth noting that a festival like Kongsberg does not spring forth from nowhere. Aside from it's long history (it's been held every year since 1964), behind the scenes, and making the scene, is a strong network of government offices, schools, and private organizations dedicated to supporting the arts and the artists. In a time of ever increasing hostility to the arts, especially in the US, it's important to take note of what Norway is doing. I won't profess to understand it all perfectly, but essentially there is a strong network of regional "Jazzsenters" with some government funding helping to organize and support jazz musicians and groups and which are a driving force in the Norwegian jazz scene. Speaking of which, the club "Nasjonal Jazzscene" in Oslo too plays an important part in giving musicians a high profile venue to perform.

There is a lot to admire about people making a concerted effort to support music, and the ones who dedicate their lives to making it, and a festival like the Kongsberg Jazz Festival and its Kongsberg Jazz Meeting component is but the tip of an iceberg.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Peter Bruun's All Too Human - Vernacular Avant-Garde (Ayler, 2018) ****

By Chris Haines

Peter Bruun's All Too Human outfit is a quartet that consists of Kasper Tranberg, trumpet & cornet, Simon Toldam, keyboards, Marc Ducret, guitars, and Peter Bruun himself, on drums & synth. The music on Vernacular Avant-Garde is a mixture of jazz fusion, progressive, math, and post-rock, without it sounding like its something that's been thrown together as its clearly not. What we have here is six carefully composed pieces of music, with enough room and space to allow the musicians to be able to contribute creatively to the set of music, allowing the music to breathe when it needs to and at other times producing a rhythmically tight, but interesting set of musical sequences.

The album opens with 'Follow Me', a funky piece, complete with groovy moog bass line, syncopated horn melody and a lovely climbing chromatic figure that provides tension and musical direction. The piece is in binary form where the second-half of the piece completely breaks down into an ambient soiree that leads through to the end. 'All Too Human' starts with sparse percussion sounds from Bruun before being joined by some spacey sounding synths, recalling sounds I frequented more often with in the 1980's, something to do with the Juno keyboard that Toldam uses I suspect! The piece builds nicely and with the introduction of Tranberg's horn, it reminds me of Mark Isham's music from the same sort of time period, creating a sort of ambient music but with substance. The title track is the longest on the album, sporting contrapuntal chromatic lines, synth sounds that this time remind me of Magma's Udu Wudu album, and some subtle and freer interplay between the guitar and horn that's a nice contrast to the initial melodic section. 'Sunshine Superman', not the Donovan track, is a through composed piece that contains some great unison lines and solos from Ducret on guitar and Tranberg on trumpet, who both manage to get 'outside' the compositions, although Bruun's strict and mathematical sounding rhythm does its best to lay a solid foundation but due to its shifting emphasis creates an ideal pattern for the improvised content. Peter Bruun's slow drumming, full of displaced micro-beats and de-emphasising the naturally stronger ones, a la Mark Guiliana, is the star of 'Extended Mind', whilst the album finishes with 'Is That So Sir Names?', a bubbling and nervous piece that stops and starts by interrupting the flow with clever changes in time, irregular phrases, and skittering sounds, before gradually driving into a groove with some great chromatic lead work from Ducret. What's really nice to hear on this album is the different set of colours coming from the palette of the synths, and although they may not be to everyone's taste they are used with discretion and tastefulness, which really gives the music a different aural sheen.

Overall, the music on this album is well written and arranged, with clearly composed and strict structures in place. However, more importantly the music on Vernacular Avant-Garde contains enough flexibility to take advantage of the musicians in the band, their own creativity and what they can offer to the music that really brings these pieces alive, full credit to Peter Bruun.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Thomas Johansson - Home Alone (Taamtz Records, 2018) ****

By Martin Schray

How can you release a convincing solo trumpet album after so many outstanding ones by Bill Dixon, Wadada Leo Smith, Peter Evans, Nate Wooley, and - recently - Susana Santos Silva (just to name a few)? What could be possible obstacles? For example, Stuart Broomer has identified a certain problem of the trumpet in recent jazz because of “its inflexibility of sound and articulation in relationship to reed instruments“, which has brought forth “dogmatically studied players or players who find an original voice by shying away from the trumpet’s sheer brassiness and its richest tradition.“ Norwegian trumpet player and composer Thomas Johansson is certainly not one of them. He has decided to pull together many traditions and innovations on his solo debut Home Alone, stripping his music down to his trumpet/flugelhorn plus some extended materials. From the very beginning one can hear that he’s an artist in full command of his instrument, something he has already proven in other contexts, e.g. in bands like Cortex or All Included. Obviously, he’s also not interested in the arbitrariness of improvisation, in the redundancy of improvising over a chorus, in letting himself just go. Johansson is a player who tries to unite both the tradition of free improvisation and the compositional means of new classical music (especially repetitive structures and modulations), which brings him close to his colleagues Wooley and Evans, who have managed to merge trumpet identity with musicality and the advancement of means of instant compositing.

While Evans’s trumpet influences are hard to pigeonhole (in interviews he said that he was rather inspired by the sound of saxophonists like Wayne Shorter and albums like Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica, e.g.) and Wooley admires the early Wynton Marsalis releases , Johansson’s music swings back and forth between elegant, melodic lines in the style of Bill Dixon and Wadada Leo Smith, for example in “Monologue“ and “Lines for Mathilde“. The first being a stylish trumpet ballad, presenting blurred passages as well as clear lines and shiny counterpoints, the latter track just keeps swinging very easily - it’s even reminiscent of Miles Davis’s cool jazz period (also, “Bucket“ sounds like a homage to “Round Midnight“). In contrast to these tracks there are pieces like “A Fistful of Density“, with its hectic rush and excitement, its sibilants, the procession of shaky riffs, and the super-sharp staccatos zigzagging through the room, and “Fractures“, a miniature full of painful, gagged, and muffled sounds.

Thomas Johansson’s trumpet is all the things that superficial music isn’t: spirited, shapely, sensual. It sums up adventurous trumpet solo music of the past 60 years. But the ten tracks on this album are more than that. Johansson’s playing is much about physicality, a solo trumpet performance which is corporeal in the best sense - and convincing.

Home Alone is available on vinyl and as a download.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Latest from Paal Nilssen-Love


Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love is, no doubt, one of the hardest working musicians in our galaxy. He always pushes his boundaries, as well the ones of his musical comrades, plays with extremes, but never forgets the great fun that music, especially live one, is. His latest releases on his own label PNL, including the 4oth one with an extended version of his Large Unit, prove it.

Extra Large Unit, More Fun, Please (PNL, 2018) ****1/2


Can you imagine a composition from Nilssen-Love that opens with silence, 18 seconds of total silence? A composition that hosts three pianists and three accordionists, French horn and piccolo flute soloists? A composition that is inspired by Korean court music, the Alexander von Schlippenbach Trio, the Globe Unity Orchestra, the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, Morton Feldman's piano pieces, John Cage ideas, and Peter Brötzmann’s Machine Gun?

Nilssen-Love never had a musical comfort zone and never subscribed to any genre or style. His work embraces not only free jazz and free-improvisation but also electronics and noise, Ethiopian and Brazilian music and elements of contemporary, avant-garde music. In 2015 he was commissioned by the Norwegian Ny Musikk organization to compose a piece for the Oslo Sinfonietta. Nilssen-Love offered to write a piece for an extended version of his Large Unit, hosting young students from the Norwegian Academy of Music.

More Fun, Please - featuring eight musicians from the Large Unit plus twenty ‘Intuitive People’, aka the young students - is, like any project that Nilssen-Love is involved with, a work that searches for extremes - loud and silent, fast and slow, with a strong physical presence, but a joyful one. More Fun, Please uses a complex graphic score, still, demands personal initiatives; employs two conductors, except Nilssen-Love himself, with signs that indicate instructions in the form of political statements, drawings of ghosts, Pac Man and other humorous references. The three pianists and their grand pianos were seated back to back, as a piano triangle at the center of the stage, and the Extra 
Large Unit were placed between and around the pianos, so all can see each other.

More Fun, Please, was performed, so far, only once at the Only Connect festival in Oslo in May 2017. A casual listener, who does know a thing about this composition, may find it hard to believe that this is indeed a work of Nilssen-Love. A first impression may suggest that it does not sound like anything that he has done before, but on repeated listening you may recognize some key elements of his work. Not only the irresistible dynamics and the driving rhythmic patterns, but also the playful clashes of sounds, the absurdist-surrealist sense of humor or the way that the most extreme and dissonant sounds eventually gravitate into a playful storm of boundless energy. This 33-minutes piece flows organically from one sonic event to another. Full of sonic inventions and eccentric surprises; flirting one minute with Feldman-esue meditative minimalism and on another with Mingus-ian, engaging free improvisation; moving freely between intricate orchestral segments to intense, chaotic eruptions; quoting ideas from Norwegian and Irish folk music, nuevo-tango of Astor Piazzolla; touching strange, disturbing noises and concluded with a poetic, repeated statement of violinist Torfinn Hofstad. Just imagine a session of Nino Rota, Cecil Taylor and a Korean royal and you may begin to understand the great fun potential of this piece.


Otomo Yoshihide / Paal Nilssen-Love - 19th of May 2016 (PNL, 2018) ****


This live recording from the the Dom Cultural Center in Moscow in May 2016 also plays with extremes, but more familiar ones, ones that are identified with these two master improvisers. This is the second recorded duo of Yoshihide and Nilssen-Love after a self-titled one (Jvtlandt, 2014), but Yoshihide collaborated before with The Thing (Shinjuku Crawl, Smalltown Superjazz, 2009); the two recorded in a trio with Norwegian noise master Lasse Marhaug (the vinyl-only Explosion Course, Pica Disk/PNL, 2013) and Yoshihide guested in the Chicago Tentet’s Concert for Fukushima (Trost, 2013).

Yoshihide, unlike other guitarists that Nilssen-Love have been collaborating with as Terrie Ex and Arto Lindsay, is a master of textures, often thorny and noisy, but always detailed and captiving ones. On the first piece, “Cat”, Yoshihide sketches different ideas, searches for shifting outlines, tones and dynamics and explores sonic collisions before settling on a texture that keeps its high intensity even on its most quiet and sparse moments. Nilssen-Love deepens the sense of restless urgency with manic, constant-shifting rhythmic patterns, some are even delicate ones when he employs ringing bells and other percussive devices that resonate beautifully Yoshihide’s rough, metallic tones. The second, longer piece, “Dog” begins with another intense texture. Yoshihide and Nilssen-Love build dense and fast tsunamis of sounds but suddenly opt for a gentle, atmospheric texture. Then, the distant, effects-laden guitar lines of Yoshihide create a web of distorted tones, overtones and rough noises. Nilssen-Love reflects later on Yoshihide solo with his own exploration of his drums set sonic range, first the qualities of drums and their skins and later focusing on the his cymbals, suggesting metallic waves that trigger Yoshihide to comment on these sounds. Eventually both build another series of tsunamis of sounds, only now these tsunamis are even more massive.



Monday, July 16, 2018

Daunik Lazro, Joe McPhee, Joshua Abrams, Guillaume Séguron, Chad Taylor - A Pride of Lions (The Bridge Sessions, 2018) **** ½

By Nick Ostrum

I came across Franco-American network known as The Bridge by chance in 2015. A list of luminaries from the Chicago and French free jazz scenes, only one of whom I had previously caught in concert, lined a bill at the Experimental Sound Studio in Rogers Park. The show was one of the most invigorating sets I experienced during my year in Chicago. (For those of you interested, this band had already a been captured on The Bridge Sessions #1: Sonic Communion.) Apparently, this was just the beginning of a loose transatlantic network that would, by 2018, produce scores of concerts, eight albums on the Bridge Sessions label (one of which has been reviewed on this blog), and at least one excellent disc on the French label Rogue Art.

A Pride of Lions shares no musicians with the discs specifically referenced above (though Joshua Adams has played in one other Bridge configuration). That said, there is more to the Bridge than discrete personnel. It is rather an organization focused facilitating musical conversations and collaborations that might not otherwise have had the time and space to develop. Each project is unique, but also grounded in this same vision. As far as this album can be taken to reflect the greater project, the organization is succeeding magnificently.

Despite the geographic distances normally between them, the musicians on this album connect in a manner that conveys a singularity of vision and adaptability that elude most comparable collaborations. All music on this disc is improvised. Some members – Daunik Lazro and Joe McPhee, Chad Taylor and Abrams, Taylor and McPhee – have histories of cooperation that reach back two decades. Others, namely French bassist Guillaume Séguron, seem to have traveled in musical circles that did not quite intersect with those of the others before this collaboration. That said, there is something special about these musicians coming together in this unique format. The result sounds spontaneous, but also practiced. Moreover, as an album, it sounds complete. The first track is inaugurated by a measured dialogue of basses that starts to congeal as the drums enter around the one-minute mark. This track gets particularly intriguing around minute, as the first sax bleeds into the picture, sounding at first like a bowed bass but gradually distinguishing itself through a series of bent and quivering notes. The tenor, meanwhile, fades in through a series of percussive clucks, evoking the gradual awakening of each member of the pack. By the time the track passes its midpoint, the band is playing in free unison with a controlled intensity that crests with McPhee’s pocket trumpet and gradually subsides into drums and bass, thereafter seamlessly drifting into the next piece. The second track begins similarly, though the marimba has replaced the drum set. Here, Taylor lays down a groove reminiscent of his electro-acoustic work with the Chicago Underground. This piece initially assumes a more spacious and bluesier feel than the last one. That is, until Taylor turns back to the drum set. At this point, it collapses into freer (though still measured) blowing over a dense fabric rhythmic canvass.

Though each track is distinctive, each also follows a similar trajectory wherein the bass and drums provide bookends as well as a bridge between tracks (which seem to be movements rather than self-contained songs). The horns, meanwhile, seem to grow organically out of and seamlessly seep back into the structures laid by the Abrams, Séguron, Taylor. Tracks three and four are compelling in their own rights. The fifth track, however, is the standout. It begins with Abrams on the guembri (I think), who lays the groove that propels the rest of the band as they engage, fade, and reengage. Lazro and McPhee sound especially spirited on this track, as they wind their lines into one tight stream of free jazz melody. The piece then fades into the hum of gently bowed bass, that, reflecting on the title, seems to lull the pack back to sleep. And then, the enthusiastic applause.

When I first heard this, I was unaware that it was recorded live. It really sounds that crisp and rehearsed, even though the softer tones and bass are sometimes slightly muted into the background. The crowd may account for some of the energy and precision. Still, it is worth noting that this is not just another live recording. Although it contains little ground-breaking, this is some of the most coherent, fluid, and compelling free improvisation I have heard in a long time. Followers of these musicians, or The Bridge project more broadly, likely already have high expectations. This album will not disappoint.

The album is available in CD or digital format.


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Mats Gustafsson / Jason Adasiewicz - Timeless (Corbett vs. Dempsey, 2018) ****


By Martin Schray

Fans of improvised music, free jazz and crossover genres know Mats Gustafsson for being able to spit fire with his saxophone. He has proved this both in his long time projects The Thing, Fire! and NU Ensemble as well as in his collaborations with Thurston Moore, Merzbow and Balázs Pándi . Jason Adasiewicz, a prolific member of the Chicago scene, has reached a certain degree of popularity for his albums with Peter Brötzmann (among others), on which he has shown that one can let it all hang out on the vibraphone, too. However, if you expect boisterous iconoclasm on their first duo album, you’ll be surprised.

From the very beginning the atmosphere brings to mind the soundtracks of French film noir classics. Most of the pieces are incredibly slow, quiet, even tender and surprisingly tuneful. Some of them remind me of Bohren und der Club of Gore albums, albeit Gustafsson and Adasiewicz know when they have to add an extra piece of angularity and tempo in order not to get cheesy (e.g. in “Dagger“ and especially in “A Fall They Call It“, the latter presenting the more familiar Gustafsson side). Then again, the music is sometimes so reduced that it sounds as if you were listening to a prop airliner in the distance (“See Them Cold, But See Them Last“).

The title track is the central piece of the album. It’s a cover version of a John Abercrombie number (ECM, 1975; with Jan Hammer and Jack DeJohnette), one of his most beautiful compositions. The original starts with elegiac guitar lines over subtle cymbal work and synthesizer drones for almost five minutes before the actual hook line emerges. The Gustafsson/Adasiewicz version comes to the point much faster and adds a lot more drama to the piece by stripping it down to the essentials: Just a plain melody on the sax and the reverberant chords on the vibes, with very little variation. Gustafsson roughs the tune up with a lot of vibrato towards the end, which has a much more melodramatic effect compared to the already emotional original. I haven’t heard Gustafsson play like this since the title track of Shift (NoBusiness, 2013), his one-time-collaboration with his fellow countrymen Correction.
Yet, don’t be misled. Of course this is a Gustafsson album, his sound is very recognizable. He uses his typical wide-ranging long notes, just played with less anger and aggression than usual. At the end of the day the music evokes an alternative kind of tension, one with a different kind of energy, one with less volume, one with a bigger focus on restraint. Gustafsson and Adasiewicz explore more subtle dynamics and moods, which are still full of passion and intensity.

Timeless is available as a CD.

You can buy it at www.downtownmusicgallery.com and www.instantjazz.com/