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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Trygve Seim & Andreas Utnem - Purcor, Songs for Saxophone and Piano (ECM, 2010) ***½

As a great antidote for the crazy avant stuff I've just been listening to, a world of harmonic and lyrical beauty is offered here to us by saxophonist Trygve Seim and Andreas Utnem, both from Norway, and forming the new generation in the lineage of Jan Garbarek. Seim's sound is warm and intimate as opposed to Garbarek's cool and expansive tone. Yet they are very similar in their use of folk influences and disregard for the rhythmic or soul that are part and parcel of jazz.

And this should be no surprise, since the music is based on church music, recorded in a church - Tøyen Kirke in Oslo, most tracks have religious titles ("Credo", "Gloria", "Agnus Dei", "Kyrie", etc.) with Utnem even playing organ on one piece. In the mid-90s the pianist invited the saxophonist to join him to play in church services, and this album is the tangible outcome of this fourteen year collaboration.

The tone is reverent, subdued, with some but not much room for improvisation, and with no space at all for wild fantasies.

Even if you play this very loud, for once the cat will go on sleeping undisturbed.

And despite its obvious mellowness and sentimentalism, its sweet calm really was the great antidote for the music I just listened to before.

© stef