|I remember bassist Dave Holland's observation that many European jazz musicians eliminate funk from their music. Holland's observation sure rings true in this recording.
While there's an attractive and pastoral, ECM quality to these multi-hued compositions from Nordic Connect which is trumpeter Ingrid Jensen and her sister, saxophonist Christine Jensen, Mattias Welin on acoustic bass, Maggi Olin on piano, and drummer Jon Wikan many of the pieces suffer from a flat rhythmic sameness; and since many of the tunes are drone-based, they're definitely mesmerizing, but in enough cases, they're also nod-making.
Mind you, "Cowboy" does funk it up in relative terms with a steady bass groove that exhibits few traces of the blues. It's a groove with a European sound easy on the blues; fastidious about the making of musical sounds. But for her part, as she works out of a Coltrane vocabulary, Christine Jensen solos hard and at some length on alto. Elsewhere, Olin, Welin, and Wikan, largely serve the composition; but when Maggi Olin solos, it's 'interesting', as her pumping, two-handed electric piano pushes and pulls against a taut bass-drum-cymbal line.
Whereas the tune, "Sweet Dream", is a direct hit; the energy level's high and Ingrid Jensen's poised solo is fashioned out of clear and concise Milesian phrases.
And in her misterioso "Things I Love", Ingrid creatively mixes 'echo effects' with gorgeous open horn lines and when she abruptly leaps into the upper register,`a la Kenny Wheeler she's emotionally penetrating.
But in the Gospel-sounding "Garden Hour", her Kenny Wheeler squeals no longer work for me. This tune is all about a slow bridge section and soothing alto/trumpet harmony, but amidst all this, Jensen's high note passages start to sound like stylistic inserts instead of an inner urge. Almost self-referentially, the composition ends with the horns playing a pristine, unharmonized, Protestant, "A - men".
I was on edge when listening to this CD.
Especially when the horns strained to play some of the high-pitched melody lines in "Cowboy", "Garden Hour" and "Breathe/Quadr'l", and this got me thinking about the need for relaxation in the performance of music.
When relaxed, a performer can play the music rather than drawing on will, instrumental technique, and stock solo devices.
Here is a case of wanting to like something but things don't always work out.
by David Fujino September 2007