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Monday, June 16, 2008

Atomic - Retrograde (Jazzland, 2008) ****½

The Swedish-Norwegian band Atomic is a kind of all-star band, that releases great records every few years, and when they do, it's always something to look forward to. This is their second 3-CD box set, now all recorded in the studio, with new material, although trumpeter Magnus Broo's "Painbody" was also recently released on his album with the same title. The other band members are Fredrik Ljungkvist on tenor an soprano saxophones, who wrote most of the material, Håvard Wiik on piano, and Scandinavia's master rhythm section : Ingebrigt Håker Flaten on bass and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums. And though all of these musicians are more productive within free jazz and avant-garde idioms, "Atomic" is their tribute to their musical heritage and inspirations, the great free jazz musicians of the 60s. That means that form, structure and rhythm still play a role, as a solid foundation for free improvisations. And, man, do these guys enjoy themselves! This is one of the best free bop bands around. The compositions are great, the playing superb, the interactions clever, the improvisations free and liberated, the rhythms enthralling. The last CD is recorded live in Seattle, and all pieces but one already figure in studio version on the previous discs in the box, making it possible and interesting to see how they approach the same material in a live setting. The sound is a little more distant, but the joy of playing even more fun. I won't bore you with an overview of all the tracks on this release, but it's great as usual. Their approach hasn't changed much, and that's good. This is modern jazz as it should sound. A pleasure for heart, soul, mind and body. What more can you want?

Listen and download from iTunes.

© stef


Anonymous said...

One of my personal highlights of 2008!
I bought it (amongst many others) during a Peter Brötzmann (reeds + taragota), Toshinori Kondo (trumpet trough electronic devices), Paal Nilssen-Love (drums), and Massimo Pupillo (electric bass) gig, which was one of the best concerts in years.