Zanussi 5 – Live In Coimbra (CF 314)
Here, Norwegian master bassist Per Zanussi is the leader and director of operations. Recorded live at a Portuguese jazz festival, the three-man reed section weaves mega contrasts and disparate tonalities into the mix with subtle or pronounced variances, contrapuntal phrasings, and sweltering, rough-hewn ostinatos. They embrace Middle Eastern modalities, free bop, funk and other genres via tempestuous solo spots, tuneful choruses and powerful exchanges, equating to a kaleidoscopic exhibition.
On the final track “All Wrath,” the band dishes out a manifold array of applications, highlighting its diversity. The musicians launch a mid-tempo Latin tinged vamp, where the reedman tinker and toy atop the beat, then launch into blustery, brawny and snaking unison choruses. The frontline pops, squeaks and plunges into a heavy-handed groove and at times, signal a revision of a typical 60s style mainstream Latin-jazz sequence often heard in adventure flicks. However, they find refuge within a modernists’ like slant and churn out boisterous solo spots, emphasized by Eirik Hegdal’s frothy baritone sax lines above the resounding bass and drums pulse. But matters quiet down with understated ebb and flow process as they veer into a jazz waltz motif and bop, amid a few immersions into modern mainstream jazz fare. One of many positive attributes is how the quintet executes transparent shifts in strategy, where surprises occur on a continual and purposeful basis. An air of excitement underscores this first-rate program.