Lotte Anker/Rodrigo Pinheiro/Hernani Faustino – Birthmark (CF 267)
We are living in time when experimental jazz musicians are not daily news stars (as if it ever was such time). In a different planet Danish sax player Lotte Anker with no doubt would be such a star.
Classically trained pianist in her teens, she switched to jazz reeds later and in her jazz-friendly homeland played with such great jazz musicians as former Miles Davis drummer US-born and Denmark living Marilyn Mazur, American pianist Marilyn Crispell and then still unknown Niels-Petter Molvaer. After her meeting with “new NY avant-garde jazz” representative sax player Tim Berne at one of festivals, she started long lasting collaboration with his band’s musicians pianist Craig Taborn and bassist Gerald Cleaver forming with them Lotte Anker Trio. With trio she recorded some her most successful and best known albums mixing her Scandinavian relaxed and airy saxophone sound with quite energetic NY downtown pulsation and freedom (learning a lot from Tim Berne and actually changing him in what could be Tim Berne trio).
Surprisingly, “Birthmark” is her different trio. This time she plays with two relatively unknown Portuguese musicians bassist Hernâni Faustino and pianist Rodrigo Pinheiro instead of Taborn/Cleaver and it works! Hernâni Faustino and Rodrigo Pinheiro are both bigger half of young but quite successful Portuguese Red Trio (their two albums got lot of positive press around Europe).It’s interesting that in new trio Lotte herself is NY loft sound generator, perfectly balanced with European free tradition representing bassist and pianist.
Music on this album is quite relaxed but has its nerve, very free form but melodic, often even lyrical, philosophical but without being boring, unique mix of Don Cherry Christiania-based music (without world fusion elements though), Tim Berne-like modern New York avant-garde jazz and European classic avant-garde tradition. And most important – all three musicians have that magic chemistry which separate great music from just good music, and it’s a rare thing.
Recorded and released in Portugal, this album has one more strong side – it isn’t too long and contains no fillers. With my full respect and even love to probably most successful of European young labels, Clean Feed Records has one serious problem – musical material editing. Many of their releases would be much, much better after even small additional cutting of not important or openly boring parts, making final albums not 79:56 min overloaded releases for crazy collectors but well produced concentrated music products for casual listeners. “Birthmark” is quite rare and successful exception – one more reason to have this album in your collection.