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Wednesday, November 10, 2021

New York United - Volume 2 (577 Records, 2021) ***½

By Stef Gijssels

Often the electronics we hear in free improvisation are disruptive, challenging, pushing the music more into zones of discomfort than comfort. With "New York United" the approach is the opposite. Sound artist Tobias Wilner and the rest of the band create a very welcoming environment, with the electronics, field recordings and synths creating a warm blanket that keeps everything nicely together, rhythmically and in terms of sound colour. 

We reviewed New York United, Vol. 1 in 2018, and compared it to the nu jazz explorations that Matthew Shipp once engaged upon. The band is the same as on Volume 1, with Daniel Carter on saxophones, clarinet, flute, and trumpet, Wilner also plays piano and guitar, Djibril Toure on bass, and Federico Ughi on drums. The references that come to mind are the Nordic endeavours by Bugge Wesseltoft, Nils Petter Molvaer or Terje Isungset. Wilner's presence is critical for the overall sound. The Dane has been active as a composer of soundtracks (including "Follow The Money", and excerpts of his compositions were used for "Miami Vice",  "Twilight" and the "Vampire Diaries"), and together with Bo Rande he forms the two-person nucleus of 'dream pop' band "Blue Foundation". 

The music is a mixture of ambient, fusion, world music and jazz, and with a strong narrative and energetic component on each track. The recipe is that the music was first recorded as an improvised piece, then transformed in the studio by Wilner. The result is very remote from what we usually review, and as said before, purists may shudder at the approach, but on the other hand, it may also lead to wider audiences for jazz in general by tapping into today's more commercial sounds. 

Fans will be interested to know there are some limited LP versions available. 

Listen and download from Bandcamp

Listen to the opening track "New York Flower"