Free Jazz review by Stef

Motif – Art Transplant (CF 225)
Motif is a Nowegian band with Atle Nymo on tenor, Håvard Wiik on piano,  Ole Morten Vågan on double bass, and Håkon Mjåset Johansen on drums. They are joined for the occasion by German trumpeter Axel Dörner. All five musicians form the traditional bop quintet, and that’s how they sound. With music that is composed, fully arranged and structured …. but with a twist. They are indeed the masters of deconstruction and reconstruction, abandoning their themes for wild or fun or experimental explorations, yet always falling back on the composed backbone of the piece.

This kind of explains the “Art Transplant” in the title, elements are taken out and replaced by different stuff, invented on the spot and integrated in the old structure. Critics could say that this is a nice trick to keep jazz artificially alive, yet the contrary is true : the band demonstrates how much of the jazz tradition is still of use today, and what a rich treasure trove it is for today’s language of expression. The music is also fun to listen to with lots of playful elements. The playing and the stylistic shifts are really exceptional, yet they at times seem to overshadow the emotional power needed to make this a truly great album.

In contrast to “Facienda”, the band’s triple CD of live and sturio recordings released earlier this year, “Art Transplant” is much more coherent in its approach.

A strong stylistic achievement.

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