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Friday, April 25, 2008

Ingebrigt Håker Flaten - The Year Of The Boar (Jazzland, 2008) ***½

Norwegian musicians are productive these days. More reviews will come in the following days, but let's start with this Norwegian Chicagoan band, consisting of Ingebrigt Håker Flaten on bass, Jeff Parker on guitar, Dave Rempis on sax, Frank Rosaly on drums and Ola Kvernberg on violin. In the style of the Vandermark 5, the music is rhythmic, structured with arrangements and with solos which are really free, wild and funky at times. The double string instruments of Parker and Kvenberg works perfectly for the long unison themes. The first track, "Maxwell's Silver Demon", give the record a really strong start, with a slow bass and violin intro, bursting open into an uptempo funky vamp, with Parker taking an amazing solo, stopped by an unexpected unison theme, leaving the whole space for an even wilder and unaccompanied solo by Rempis, then encouraged to even more wildness by Rosaly, while guitar and violin suddenly bring in a soothing long theme, with the drums-sax madness keeping on, which get slowly sucked up in an ever increasing tempo that drops away to let the violin do its thing, which is brought to a stop by a fusion-like unison ending. The second track, "Green Wood", brings a repetitive bass line and a beautiful theme allowing the violin to shine, stopping halfway and changing course to let sax and guitar take over for some real free improv, inviting the whole band in for some joint frenzy, but ending with in all back on the same theme. Håker Flaten's music is excellent, and he manages to present the band's skills in many styles of jazz, from strong bop to electronics, with elements of fusion, rock (listen to Parker's bluesy solo in the last track) and free improv, yet the overall result does not give a very integrated or coherent sound, offering a patchwork of nice musical explorations, unfortunately not all belonging to the same quilt. There are great things to be heard though.