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Sunday, June 1, 2014

APUH! - Ett (Pälsrobot, 2014) ****

By Paul Acquaro

APUH! is a woodwind, bass and drum trio from Sweden, an ever fertile region for inventive jazz, and their debut recording Ett, which covers the free jazz lexicon, doesn't disappoint.

While some of the songs and passages lean to the sparser side, tracks like the opener 'Hållbara ballonger' fires on all free cylinders to the end. Next, 'A German from Russia', begins with the sax playing a long melodic phrase, until the bass and drums establish something like a bossa-nova groove. Later in the tune, the group descends into a furious classic free jazz melee, a three way battle of pulse and breath. The track 'Malmö II' counts off almost like straight ahead rock. The sax starts out forcefully, but soon the tune breaks apart and the musicians begin interacting with more nuance and texture. The deconstructed state lasts through the end of the track, an unusual and engaging song structure.

"Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?' starts with a clatter of Hampus Öhman-Frölund's percussion, Adrian Åsling Sellius's clarinet soon joins, spinning a free form melody. It's only until well in the later portion of the track where Mats Dimming's double bass enters, bringing the woodwind/percussion duo back to the ground.  Freely improvised, with lots of strands of ideas coming and going, a good comparison may in fact be the music of influential early 1960's Jimmy Giuffre Trio (a reference that's been popping up around here a bit lately).

Ett is an exciting recording. The trio acknowledges the past and is confidently exploring new directions.