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Sunday, May 9, 2021

Jonas Cambien Trio - Nature Hath Painted The Body (Clean Feed, 2021) ****

Belgian-born, Oslo-based pianist Jonas Cambien chose a quote from the 1653 book The Compleat Angler by Izaak Walton for the title of the third studio album of his trio. This illustrated book celebrated the art and the spirit of fishing in prose and verse. You can equate the aesthetics of Jonas Cambien Trio to the experience of fishing. This trio is not interested in capturing heavy, well-crafted textures but is focused on the experience itself of music-making, stressing that nothing is out, nothing is prohibited, and that the music goes everywhere, unpolished, challenging and surprising. Like fishing, music-making is a means for exploration of your art and yourself as a creative artist (and, obviously, as an attentive listener).

Cambien also chose perfect partners for his musical journeys. André Roligheten, who plays the soprano and tenor saxes and the bass clarinet, plays in drummer Gard Nilssen’s Acoustic Unity and Supersonic Orchestra, Friends & Neighbors quintet, the duo Albatrosh and sax player Eirik Hegdal’s Team Hegdal. Drummer Andreas Wildhagen plays in fellow drummer Paal Nilssen-Love’s Large Unit, Lana Trio and in various Nakama’s musicians cooperative-label projects. Both played on the previous albums of the Trio, all released by Clean Feed. Cambien plays also the soprano sax on one piece and the organ on another two pieces.

Cambien composed all the pieces but his compositions are simple and suggestive baits for collective trio improvisations. The trio, in its turn, never repeats itself and searches for new modes of conversational, open and playful dynamics, improvisation strategies and moods. The trio plays - literally - as it deconstructs and reconstructs Ornette Coleman’s harmolodics motives on “1 000 000 Happy Locusts” and experiments with a repetitive, rhythmic theme on “Herrieschoppers”. Cambien and Roligheten soprano sax duet on “Hypnos” offers an abstraction of imaginary whirling dervishes dance and serves as an introduction for “Mantis”, where the Trio dives deeper into an irresistible, mysterious trance-like dance “The Origins of Tool Use” is an open improvisation with Cambien playing prepared piano and organ, and the following “Bushfire” employs a repetitive theme in search of an introspective interplay. “Freeze” alternates between the chamber, sparse segments that rely on extended techniques of all three musicians, and sudden and powerful outbursts. Roligheten adds Mediterranean veins into the stubborn ostinato of “Yoyo Helmut”. The last piece is a twisted but emotional ballad, articulated beautifully by Cambien on the piano and organ, and subverted cleverly by Roligheten’s exploration of extended breathing techniques and Wildhagen’s sparse, mechanical drumming.

Nature hath painted the body of the fish with whitish, blackish, brownish spots, according to Walton. Jonas Cambien Trio’s fishing-like journey is colored with fresh, brilliant intuitive and almost telepathic dynamics.


Ken Blanchard said...

Fine review. Great trio. The video clips are amazing! These guys keep the ball in the air.