The Norwegian jazz scene is without a doubt one of the most vibrant in Europe, with musicians climbing to international recognition due to their combination of instrumental skills and creative voice. And the latter is no doubt the most important in art : you may like them or not, but Jan Garbarek, Terje Rypdal, Nils Petter Molvaer, Bugge Wesseltoft, Frode Gjerstad, Terje Isungset, Trygve Seim, Ståle Storløkken, Ingar Zach and many more, have all created quite different, yet very distinct sounds, and even new musical subgenres within the jazz tradition, but very often going beyond that, always with maturity and intelligence. And I emphasise the creative aspect : letting us hear new and innovative approaches, rather than destructive noise.
The Norwegian band Motif is part of this creative stream. They describe their own music as "a sound that echoes the acoustic outings of Miles Davis, the structures of Ligeti, and the electronic collage of Aphex Twin", which is not always easy to recognise on this triple album.
The band is led by Ole Morten Vågan on bass, Eivind Lønning on trumpet, Atle Nymo on saxophone, Håvard Wiik on piano, and Håkon Mjåset Johansen on drums. On the second and third volumes, Petter Vågan joins on guitar and Ola Kvernberg on violin. The band's former trumpeter Mathias Eick joins on the third volume.
The music is composed, with discernible themes and structures, beautifully arranged, often slow to mid-tempo, and could mostly be categorised as mainstream jazz with exuberant soloing, but then you have pieces like "The Korean Barbecue Smokeout", which is crazy, or "Seksten" which is more explorative.
Without having the energy and power of their fellow countrymen of Atomic, Motif manages to bring a very strong album, and one that will appeal to a broader audience of jazz fans.
Listen to Apo Calypso