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Saturday, August 22, 2020

Lina Allemano’s Ohrenschmaus - Rats and Mice (Lumo, 2020) ****½

By Stef Gijssels

The album starts furiously, with sharp stuttering trumpet sounds, jagged drumming and a plunky bass. No time to relax, you're drawn in immediately, especially when the trumpet suddenly shifts to a clear and pleasant phrase. Styles and genres crash into each other with sheer delight: intense, harsh, gentle and subtle at the same time. 

The trio is Lina Allemano on trumpet, Dan Peter Sundland on - sometimes bowed - electric bass and Michael Griener on drums. 

No need to introduce Candadian trumpeter Lina Allemano, whose music has been lauded before on this blog. Sundland is a young Norwegian artist with already fourteen albums to his name, in various bands and styles of jazz. Griener also does not require much introduction, as he has performed with Satoko Fujii's Orchestra Berlin, in Lacy Pool with Uwe Oberg and Rudi Mahall, with Ernst Ludwig Petrowsky, with Ulrich Gumpert, Alexander von Schlippenbach, Carl Ludwig Hübsch - in short with almost German musicians who matter - as well as with all jazz musicians of name who happen to pass through Berlin. 

Despite the age and geographic diversity of the band, the Berlin-based trio find each other perfectly in Allemano's fascinating musical universe. Even more than on her quartet albums (Lina Allemano Four and Titanium Riot), styles and settings clash: improvisation with composition, raw expressivity with sweet lyricism, emotional gravity and moments of humour, grandeur and little inventions (the 'ear candy' of the trio's name), angular themes and jubilating solos, control and release, cerebrality and sensitivity, intimacy and exploration. The tension between these extremes, the tight interplay and stellar musicianship will make you listen with surprise and joy. It's as if they tear apart their own music the moment it's created or vice versa. It's multilayered, offering an ever changing rich and compact complexity, and inherently dynamic. Before you have time to absorb and savour what's happening, you're already pulled in a different direction, and one that's even more attractive. 

Furthermore, the trio creates a density of sound that is astonishing for the small ensemble they are. They started performing together in 2017, when Allemano was living partly in Berlin and in Toronto. It's obvious that the years of collaboration paid off and led to this gem of an album. 

She explained her approach to "composition/improvisation" in an interview with Tobias Fisher in 2012, and I guess it still holds true today "When I bring a new tune in for the band to try, even though I always write the music specifically for these guys to play, I tweak it a lot once I hear them actually play it. I ask them questions and I ask them to try different approaches as I try to find what I might be looking for - but I never impose something that doesn't feel right for everyone. Everyone needs to find their own way to play the music that works for the whole group and for the music. It's a process that unfolds with time and work". This explains the strong collective power of this trio too. 

Please treat yourself to this album. 

Listen and download from Bandcamp


Dom Minasi said...

Excellent Review and Video

Thank you for posting