Tag Archives: Sten Sandell

Le Son du Grisli review by

The Godforgottens : Never Forgotten, Always Remembered (CF 164)
Un petit peu à la manière de The Necks, The Godforgottens (Magnus Broo, Sten Sandell, Johan Berthling, Paal Nilssen-Love) empoignent une horizontalité étouffante. Poison continu pour orgue Hammond et contrebasse ronflante. Pure angoisse et violence sourde. S’interposent les saillies d’une trompette agitée et éruptive. Le crescendo enfle et n’est plus que lente montée en agonie (Always Forgotten).

Les deux autres improvisations (Never Remembered, Remembered Forgotten) renvoient à des séquences plus familières. Toujours pris dans l’étau de ce (trop) plein débordant, seule la trompette refuse ce climat pesant. Elle crie, perce et obtient rupture. Maintenant, la musique consent à son propre effacement et une pulsation régulière vient sauver un combo à la limite de la dérive. Musique en demi-teinte, entre échec et fulgurances.

All About Jazzz review by Mark Corroto

The Godforgottens – Never Forgotten, Always Remembered (CF 164)
A Scandinavian supergroup of sorts, The Godforgottens met for this recording session in 2006 and pianist Sten Sandell happened to spot a Hammond B3 organ in the corner. Having never played one before, he instantly shaped the direction and feel of this performance out of this spontaneous decision to have a go at it. The three musicians joining Sandell—trumpeter Magnus Broo, bassist Johan Berthling and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love—have all collaborated on various projects in the past. This combination might be the first, hopefully, of many for The Godforgottens. The three lengthy tracks—between ten and twenty minutes—crystallize from the B3, but not as the work of an American jazz/blues organ band. The sound might best be described as the imaginary meeting of Sun Ra and Miles Davis, circa 1974. The opening “Always Forgotten,” begins with a placid organ wash, providing an equable current of energy under the unwrinkled tone of Broo’s trumpet. With the entrance of Berthling’s bowed bass and Nilssen-Love’s percussion wash, The Godforgottens create a soundscape in which some very intimate improvisations can be built. The band adds tension and release within each piece as the river of sound continues on with a seemingly endless number of possibilities. Even when Sandell switches to piano mid-song, the energy sustains itself by way of Nilssen-Love and Berthling’s inexhaustible pace. By “Never Remembered,” the quartet allows the threads to unravel, opening the music up and jostling the time signature. Sandell accomplishes this by sitting out much of the time; only entering to push players in varying directions. The duo of Berthling and Nilssen-Love heard here expands the imagination, as they seem to create new sounds from their respective instruments. The nearly twenty-minute “Remembered Forgotten” ends the disc with a trumpet/drum launch. The pair sparks a pulse picked up by piano and bass before the sound spins into free-form musings. When the organ reenters (think of dark clouds overhead), the vibe turns heavy and Broo breaks out his upper register playing to push up the sky. By the end, the exhausted players return to the opening wash of the B3 sound to bring the music full circle.

El Intruso “Best of 2009” list by different writers

Músico del Año 
Wadada Leo Smith 20
John Hollenbeck 19
Vijay Iyer 17
Bill Dixon 13
Anthony Braxton 12

Músico Revelación
Darius Jones 35
Darcy James Argue 18 
Peter Evans  14
Samuel Blaser 13
Nicholas Urie 9
Grupo del Año
John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble 15
Vandermark 5 14
The Thing 12
Vijay Iyer Trio 12
The Nels Cline Singers 10

Grupo Revelación
Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society 34
The Godforgottens 14
Fire! 13 
Lapslap 12
Darius Jones Trio 7
Álbum del Año
Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society Infernal Machines New Amsterdam 16 
Wadada Leo Smith Spiritual Dimensions Cuneiform 14 
John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble Eternal Interlude Sunnyside 11 
Vandermark 5 Annular Gift NotTwo 11 
Vijay Iyer Trio Historicity ACT Music 11 
Wadada Leo Smith & Jack DeJohnette America Tzadik 11
John Hollenbeck 31
John Zorn 18
Henry Threadgill 17
Anthony Braxton 16
Bill Dixon 15

Paal Nilssen-Love 26 
Tyshawn Sorey 25
Kevin Shea 16
John Hollenbeck 15
Nasheet Waits 15
Contrabajo / Bajo eléctrico
William Parker 31
Joelle Leandre 23
Mark Dresser 16
Barry Guy 13
John Hebert 13

Mary Halvorson 34
Nels Cline 25
Hilmar Jensson 21
Joe Morris 19
Marc Ribot 7
Vijay Iyer 28
Satoko Fujii 20
Matthew Shipp 20
Agusti Fernández 15
Marilyn Crispell 9

Uri Caine 26
Craig Taborn 21
John Medeski 20
Satoko Fujii 20
Marco Benevento 7
Tony Malaby 22
Mats Gustaffson 21
Rudresh Mahanthappa 20
Anthony Braxton 15
Ken Vandermark 14

Trompeta / Corneta
Peter Evans 53
Wadada Leo Smith 38
Taylor Ho Bynum 22
Dave Douglas 20
Nate Wooley 14
Ben Goldberg 27
James Falzone 15
Alex Ward 14
Jason Stein 12
Anat Cohen 9

Steve Swell 45
Samuel Blaser 23
Jeb Bishop 13 
Nils Wogram 11
Roswell Rudd 11
Violín / Viola
Mark Feldman 33
Jessica Pavone 24
Carla Kihlstedt 20
Jenny Scheinman 19
Carlos Zingaro 14

Fred Lonberg-Holm 30
Okkyung Lee 14
Daniel Levin 13
Peggy Lee 12
Vincent Courtois 12
Otros Instrumentos
Nicole Mitchell Flauta 28 
Brandon Seabrook Banjo 13 
Ikue Mori Electrónicos 13
Jason Adasiewicz Vibráfono 12
Marcus Rojas Tuba 11
Cantante Femenina
Fay Victor 13
Susanna Wallumrod 13
Carla Kihlstedt 9
Norma Winstone 8
Ute Wasserman 8

Cantante Masculino
Theo Bleckmann 22
Phil Minton  13
Kurt Elling 12
Antony 8
Dwight Trible 6
Músico / Grupo en concierto
Mostly Other People do the Killing 13
The Thing 12
Vandermark 5 12
Satoko Fujii 10
Steven Bernstein’s Millennial Territory Orch. 7

Sello Discográfico
Clean Feed 64
Firehouse 12 12
Intakt 10
Tzadik 10 

Han participado de la votación los siguientes periodistas (por orden alfabético):
Andrey Henkin, Antonio Branco, Clifford Allen, Ernest Pedersen, Eval Hareuveni, Guillaume Belhomme, Jakob Bækgaard, Jeff Dayton-Johnson, John Eyles, John Sharpe, Kurt Gottschalk, Laurence Donohue-Greene, Marcelo Morales, Mark Corroto, Matthew Marshall, Pachi Tapiz, Pep Salazar, García Pierre, Cécile Raúl da Gama, Roberto Barahona, Rui Eduardo Paes, Sean Fitzell, Sergio Piccirilli, Simon Jay Harper, Stef Gijssels, Stuart Broomer, Troy Collins

Gapplegate Music review by Grego Edwards

The Godforgottens – Never Forgotten Always Remembered (CF 164)
There are times when the cumulative effort of listening to CD after CD of music can bog the senses. It is enormously time consuming, enormously tedious at times, and frustrating on a number of levels. The point is, when something doesn’t stand out one way or another, when it sounds like 500 other CDs you’ve heard in the last year, what do you say about it?

Thankfully today’s CD does not have that problem. The Godforgottens’ “Never Forgotten, Always Remembered” (Clean Feed) does stand out from the pack. It’s a free improvisation distinguished by Paal Nilssen-Love’s anarchic everything-but-the-trashcan drumming insouciance, by Johan Berthling’s earthy, rumbling double bass, and perhaps most of all, the brazen excitement of Magnus Broo on trumpet and the keyboard work of Sten Sandell.

The beginning of the performance has a droning quality set off by Sandell’s Hammond B3 and Broo’s cosmically directed trumpet. The sound of the group here is much more than the ordinary free improv ensemble at work. They hover and drone around a pitch center with avant asides and somehow manage to invoke that eastward gazing “Universal Consciousness” sort of sound that Alice Coltrane created in her prime, but without directly referencing it.

The second section has a rough-and-tumble, head-over-heels quality that is abetted especially by Nilssen-Love’s cacophonous crashing and clashing of timbres and textures. The final section brings the B3 into the mix once again with drones and melodic sustains, and with some really rather bracing trumpet from Broo.

This is accessible avant garde music that does not run through the usual exercises of how to attain a group collectivity. It’s different and it’s very good.

As escolhas de Jazz de 2009 – Público – Nuno Catarino, Paulo Barbosa, Rodrigo Amado

1. Wadada  Leo Smith / Jack DeJohnnete
Tzadik, dist. Flur

Wadada Leo Smith
Spiritual Dimensions

Músico que nunca atingiu o reconhecimento devido por se ter dedicado à criação pura e inadulterada, revela absoluta paixão pelo silêncio como matéria primordial da música. Em “America”, o característico som de pratos de DeJohnette e o sopro penetrante, algo austero, de Leo Smith, dá-nos a sensação de que estamos perante algo especial, um dueto que conjura pensamentos e emoções muito para além da simples música. Em  “Spiritual Dimensions”, rodeado de músicos de excepção – no primeiro CD com o Golden Quintet, e no segundo com o noneto Organic – o trompetista revela uma visão única para o jazz do século XXI. R.A.

2. Keith Jarrett
Testament, Paris/London
ECM, dist. Dargil

Magnífico disco triplo que regista dois concertos do pianista em Paris e Londres, em Novembro e Dezembro de 2008, “Testament” é um monumento. Em longas explorações a solo, Jarrett apresenta as marcas de uma música intemporal, desenvolvendo o seu pianismo lírico de rara intensidade, num evidente pico de forma. N.C.

3. Joe Lovano US Five
Folk Art
Blue Note, dist. EMI

Em “Folk Art”, 22º álbum que grava para a Blue Note, Joe Lovano regressa ao som directo que marcou o início da sua carreira. Reunindo uma formação pouco usual, com duas baterias, piano e contrabaixo, surpreende tudo e todos com um som que se afasta das grandes produções dos últimos anos, como “Viva Caruso”, “Streams of Expression” ou “Symphonica”, e evoca registos mais directos como “Landmarks” ou “Universal Language”. R.A.

4. João Paulo
White Works
Universal, dist. Universal

João Paulo agarra numa selecção de composições do contrabaixista Carlos Bica e injecta-lhes vida nova. Os temas mantêm a essência melódica e a música fica a ganhar quando o pianista improvisa como gosta. Apesar da simplicidade da proposta – João Paulo serve-se apenas de um piano clássico – imprime a sua linguagem e, em alguns casos, as suas versões acabam por soar melhor do que as originais. N.C.

5. Harris Eisenstadt
Canada Day

Clean Feed, dist. Trem Azul

O talento de Harris Eisenstadt como compositor e arranjador, informado não só por uma sólida formação jazzística como também por uma curiosidade sem limites, dá origem a um registo que evoca os mais interessantes projectos dos anos de ouro Blue Note, agregando-lhe simultaneamente elementos do jazz contemporâneo e da nova improvisação. Um bop moderno que é livre, senão na forma, absolutamente no espírito. R.A.

6. Evan Parker Electro-Acoustic Ensemble
The Moments Energy
ECM, dist. Dargil

Quinto álbum, desde 1992, do grupo liderado pelo saxofonista Evan Parker. Com o apoio de alguns dos seus parceiros habituais (Agustí Fernández, Barry Guy, Paul Lytton, Peter Evans), expande uma pequena orquestra, com assumido investimento electrónico. Navegando entre as dualidades da composição e improvisação, e entre acústico e eléctrónico, o grupo vai construindo um música rica, repleta de pormenores, sempre pautada por uma rígida contenção. N.C.

7. Steve Lehman Octet
Travail, Transformation, and Flow
Pi Recordings

Tomando como base as explorações de Eric Dolphy registadas no clássico “Out to Lunch” e o princípio do movimento M-Base que defendia o ritmo como o ingrediente mais importante da música, subordinando a improvisação ao rigor da escrita e à sua leitura pelo “ensemble”, Steve Lehman apresenta um álbum palpitante do princípio ao fim, numa das mais fortes manifestações de originalidade ouvidas nos últimos anos. P.B.
8. Jon Hassell
Last Night The Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes in the Street
ECM, dist. Dargil

Regressado à ECM, 23 anos depois de “Power Spot”, Hassell encontra nos valores de produção da editora o contexto ideal para uma reactualização dos seus princípios sonoros, que aqui surgem mais brilhantes do que nunca, evocando diversos pontos chave da sua discografia. Com sucessivas audições, o admirável mundo do trompetista é-nos revelado numa imensidão de detalhes sónicos. R.A.

9. Lotte Anker / Craig Taborn / Gerald Cleaver
Live at The Loft
Ilk, dist. Multidisc

Lotte Anker é uma aventureira, no melhor sentido do termo. Durante anos ligada ao meio mais conservador do jazz, decidiu um dia arriscar e criar uma linguagem que fosse dela. Fortemente influenciada por artistas como Marilyn Crispell, Peter Brotzmann ou John Tchicai, mergulhou fundo na disciplina da improvisação total, começando a conquistar merecido reconhecimento. Neste registo, a saxofonista desvenda uma luminosa veia impressionista que encontra eco perfeito em  Craig Taborn e Gerald Cleaver. R.A.

10. The Godforgottens
Never Forgotten, Always Remembered

Clean Feed, dist. Trem Azul

The Godforgottens são quatro músicos que conseguem superar a barreira do previsível e do risco calculado. Magnus Broo, Sten Sandell, Johan Berthling e Paal Nilssen-Love juntam esforços numa odisseia de abstracção e liberdade, num jazz que, de tão livre, se liberta do próprio free-jazz. À intensidade sónica do projecto contrapõe-se uma elegância individual única e uma coerência acima de qualquer suspeita. R.A.

Stash Dauber review

Mo’ Clean Feed Records
The demand for free jazz and creative improvised music must be a whole lot greater in Europe than it is here in these United States, because the folks at Clean Feed Records in Lisbon continue to release interesting, challenging recordings at a rate that would probably break the bank at an American label. Once again, it’s a varied bunch:

Will Holshouser Trio + Bernanrdo Sassetti – Palace Ghosts and Drunken Hymns (CF 161)
New York-based accordionist Will Holshouser and his drummerless trio meet up with Portuguese pianist Bernardo Sassetti on Palace Ghosts and Drunken Hymns. Together, they produce a music of lush romanticism, highlighted by Ross Horton’s trumpet, which alternately waxes lyrical and sings sassy, and Dave Phillips’ lovely work on arco bass. This is chamber jazz at its best, alternately wistful and playful, cast from the same mold as Dave Douglas’ Charms of the Night Sky. The title refers to the music’s European setting (recorded in Portugal) and “the mysterious link between alcohol and spirituality,” which sounds good to me.

Michaël Attias Renku – In Coimbra (CF 162)
Well-traveled Israeli-born altoist Michael Attias has a pensive sound, influenced by Lee Konitz and Jimmy Lyons (both of whom have compositions covered on Renko in Coimbra), with an acrid tone and acerbic ideas. He’s ably supported here by bassist John Hebert and drummer Satoshi Takeishi. The three can play with Art Ensemble of Chicago-like minimalism (“Do & the Birds”) or David S. Ware-ish intensity (“Fenix Culprit,” featuring a cameo by pianist Ross Lossing), sounding their best on “Universal Constant,” where their dialogue moves from abstraction (with Satoshi applying some extended techniques to his traps) to something approaching funk.

Empty Cage Quartet – Gravity (CF 161)
Empty Cage Quartet are so called because the members’ initials spell out MTKJ. “We are not conceptualists,” trumpeter Kris Tiner insists, in Gravity’s liner notes, which rival Cecil Taylor’s for density (if not obscurity). He and his mates Jason Mears (sax, clarinet), Ivan Johnson (bass) and Paul Kikuchi (drums) play through alternating sections from two pieces (“Gravity” and “Tzolkien”) that sound through-composed but are probably improvised, their horn polyphony and tightly-tuned drums evoking an agreeable collision of Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time” with Out to Lunch, Point of Departure, or one of those.

Tony Malaby Apparitions – Voladores (CF 165)
Voladores is the latest outing for Tony Malaby’s Apparitions. On tenor, Malaby raises a plaintive cry like mid-‘60s Ornette on the previously unrecorded Coleman composition “Homogeneous Emotions,” and gets a burry, Sam Rivers-like sound on “Old Smoky,” where he’s as forceful as Rivers can be in a trio setting. On “Dreamy Drunk,” he comes across like Archie Shepp channeling Ben Webster and makes effective use of multiphonics. The basic horn-bass-drums trio is augmented by John Hollenbeck’s tuned percussion, which adds textural variety to the proceedings. On “Sour Diesel,” Hollenbeck injects melodica into the harmonic mixture (the way Jack Dejohnette used to on his ECM sides) while Malaby follows a circuitous melodic path on soprano. Might just be the pick of this litter.

Jason Stein’s Locksmith Isidore – Three Less Than Between (CF 153)
To play the bass clarinet is to invite comparisons to Eric Dolphy, but Jason Stein — a native Lawn Guylander now based in Chicago — volunteered to be thrown into that briar patch after switching from guitar as a teenager. On Three Less Than Between, he’s creating a vocabulary for his instrument on the fly as he goes: growls, squeals, intervallic leaps, and staccato lines, aided by a rhythm section – bassist Jason Roebke and drummer Mike Pride – that’s equally inventive in supporting him. “Isn’t Your Paper Clip” explodes with energy, culminating in an old-fashioned clattering drum solo; the denouement is a relatively straightahead interlude with walking bass, followed by a restless bass solo with sympathetic drum accompaniment.

Nicolas Masson Parallels – Thirty Six Ghosts (CF 163)
Nicolas Masson Parallels’ Thirty Six Ghosts is proof that the land of William Tell has produced more than just watches and chocolate. The Shorteresque tenorman and his all-Swiss quartet (which features electric piano and stand-up bass) play a mostly introspective brand of jazz that’s informed by a love of 20th century composed music and, less audibly, alt-rock. Not surprisingly, the proximate model here is a less wired/weird version of early ‘70s Miles, particularly on the relentlessly funky “Hellboy.”

The Godforgottens – Never Forgotten, Always Remembered (CF 164)
The Godforgottens is the name adopted by Swedish trumpeter Magnus Broo and the Sten Sandell trio. On Never Forgotten, Always Remembered, they perform three lengthy extemporations – the longest nearly 20 minutes – with titles that are variants of the album’s title. On “Always Forgotten,” they create brooding, oceanic swells with Sandell playing first-time Hammond B3 as well as piano. “Never Remembered” starts with a cascade of drum thunder from Paal Nilssen-Love, over which Broo and Sandell spar. “Remembered Forgotten” starts as a duel between Broo and Nilssen-Love before Sandell and bassist Johan Berthling enter the fray. Their interchanges can be either exhilarating or exhausting, depending on your point of view.

Free Jazz review by Stef

The Godforgottens – Never Forgotten, Always Remembered (CF 164)
The Sten Sandell Trio + Magnus Broo is something else entirely than what you would expect. The band is called the Godforgottens, with Magnus Broo on trumpet, Sten Sandell on Hammond B3 organ and piano, Johan Berthling on double bass, and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums.

The first piece starts like a tune from a nightmare, with hypnotic bowed bass, an endless menacing organ sound circling around a single tonal center, chaotic background percussion and the trumpet that hovers over it all, screeching full-voiced. Gradually rhythm emerges, the tempo increases, bass strings are plucked, piano chords add drama. The trumpet is still lamenting. Full voice.Then stops. The piano chords run wild. The drums roll, full of patternless madness. Then the storm dies down.

The second piece starts with tribal drumming, deep-voice throat-singing by Sandell, hesitating trumpet tones. The sound of the unexpected. Totally unexpected. Then you get the organ again. Quite harmonious yet weird. Full of gravitas and fire. The trumpet follows suit in short staccato blasts. Even if the rhythm section does everything not to create a sense of flow – at best rocks thundering down mountains, the organ and the trumpet do have a sense of direction: they flow.Then stop. Then it’s Paal Nilssen-Love demonstrating what modern drumming should sound like: all spikes and splinters and unreleased built-up tension. Piano and trumpet dance around each other. Remaining pounding. Staccato. Slowing down. Bass plucked. Sensitivity reigns. Subtlety dominates. Bass bowed. One note on piano. Two notes on piano. A bell-like trumpet sound. A cymbal. Like after the storm: raindrops falling from leaves.

The third piece starts with the known and appreciated Broo & Nilssen-Love duet. Broo can sound like Don Cherry, and like Louis Armstrong and like Lester Bowie, with a deep sense of blues and lyricism. Even in his wildest excursions, like here. The drums go through the roof. The piano joins the free bop. Out of the ensuing chaos, the bass emerges as the solid foundation. Sandell takes the lead. Then Broo does Cherry: all sympathy with the universe, joyful and sad, dancing and serene. The whole band joins. Light-footed and deep. So beautiful. Then the organ is back. Dark and menacing. Supported by the bass. Scattering the joy. No rescue possible. All hope gone.The trumpet screaming in wild laments. High and piercing. The drums rattling. Increasing the tempo. The intensity. Broo counters with a powerful melodic phrase. All heart and warmth. Subduing the violence. Redemption? Resignation? Revenge? It all ends with a single endless organ tone, over which Sandell practices his tuvan overtone singing, shamanistic and tribal …  mesmerizing.

You can’t put this music in a genre box. It’s fantastic. 

Tomajazz review by Pachi Tapiz

CF 125Townhouse Orchestra – Belleville (CF 125)
Belleville es la segunda grabación de Townhouse Orchestra. Evan Parker, Sten Sandell, Ingebrigt Haker Flaten y Paal Nilssen-Love son los integrantes de tan reducida formación, cuatro pesos pesados que militan en la primera división de la libre improvisación europea, y que pertenecen a distintas generaciones. Publicado en formato de doble CD, Belleville contiene únicamente dos temas con una duración de 45 minutos cada uno. Sus títulos, “Belleville” y “Villebelle”, son un tanto sospechosos de no ser nada más que unas excusas para etiquetar el contenido de esta obra. En ella la música se expone sin tregua, ya que no aparece dividida en unas pistas que pudiesen servir como puntos de referencia al oyente. A pesar de ello el discurso del cuarteto no está carente de estructura alguna, sino todo lo contrario, ya que a grandes rasgos se pueden distinguir cuatro partes con su correspondiente exposición, nudo y desenlace, todo ello por supuesto dentro de la tradición de la libre improvisación. A lo largo de esos noventa minutos en los que los músicos van tejiendo el discurso del grupo hay espacio para los solos, dúos, tríos, y por supuesto para que el cuarteto trabaje a plena intensidad. También hay huecos para el silencio, la calma, el retomar la energía y volver a construir un discurso a partir de la nada, o para que en su interior los cuatro músicos (especialmente Sandell), vayan incorporando distintas melodías espontáneas.

En largo y en corto. Dos cuartetos, dos formas distintas a la vez que magníficas de crear y exponer composiciones instantáneas.

Downbeat review by Shaun Brady

CF 125Townhouse Orchestra – Belle Ville (CF 125)
4 stars
Unlike most DVDs on the market, director David Lynch insists that his films be released sans chapter stops, thereby preventing viewers from randomly accessing scenes. On the one hand, this makes artistic sense: Lynch is a filmmaker who thrives on atmosphere, which would be destroyed without being experienced in its totality. But he’s also a master at creating memorable and beautiful scenes that last for mere moments, things of mystery worthy of being explored out of context.

The monumental block of music represented on the Townhouse Orchestra’s second release is similar. Each of the two CDs contains a single 45-minute block of music, which rewards being experienced as a whole; there’s an epic spontaneous narrative being spun by these four remarkably attuned musicians, with breathtaking contrasts between
disparate segments. But some of those segments are so striking on their own terms that some sort of index would help one to return and examine them in greater detail.

The quartet – saxophonist Evan Parker, pianist Sten Sandell, bassist Ingebrigt Haker Flaten and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love – are all quite familiar with one another, evidenced by the utter absence of down time or meandering transitions over the course of the double-disc set. A dense whorl of four-part sound is the default, but many of the highlights come from smaller sub-units: the dark clouds conjured around disc one’s 14-minute mark by Sandell’s portentous left-hand hammering and Parker’s eerily swooping tenor, complemented by Nilssen-Love’s bowed cymbals, or two broad-shouldered solo spots by
Haker Flaten on disc two.

The scale of these improvisations can be a tad overwhelming, akin to staring at two huge abstract murals aswarm with detail. More accurately a diptych, two pieces similar in size and effect, at times echoing and at others deviating from one another, rich on their own,
stunning in combination.

All About Jazz review by Andrey Henkin

Ingebrigt Haker Flaten: Five Bass Hits

Townhouse Orchestra Belle Ville (CF 125)
Evan Parker/Ingebrigt Haker Flaten – The Brewery Tap (Smalltown Superjazzz)
Trinity Breaking the Mold (CF 135)
Ingebrigt Haker Flaten – The Year of the Boar (Jazzland)
Ingebrigt Haker Flaten/Hakon Kornstad – Elise (Hemlandssanger Compunctio)

Though Europe and Scandinavia are better known for their multitude of saxophonists, one should not overlook the remarkable number and quality of bassists hailing from the region. Though his greatest exposure arguably has come through his membership in the Scandinavian groups Atomic and The Thing, Norwegian bassist Ingebrigt Haker Flaten is aggressively versatile in a wide array of contexts. Townhouse Orchestra is Flaten in partnership with Thing cohort Paal Nilssen-Love (drums), Sten Sandell (piano) and seminal British saxophonist Evan Parker. At least format-wise, this group is reminiscent of Parker’s work with Alexander von Schlippenbach’s quartet. But an even earlier precedent was set with the Parker/Kowald/Irene Schweizer/Pierre Favre group of the late 1960s. Belle Ville, named for the Oslo club from whence this live recording comes, sounds quite different from either, primarily through the sparse attack of Sandell. Parker, equally capable of squalls and stillness, operates more in the latter, with Flaten and Nilssen-Love restraining themselves for the most part. One of the best things about free improvisatory settings is that the “rhythm section” isn’t cowed by playing with someone of Parker’s stature and that the saxophonist is in discovery mode alongside his partners. An expansive, two-disc followup to this group’s first album. That same spirit is also prevalent on The Brewery Tap, Flaten’s duet record with Parker. Also recorded live at Belle Ville but six months later, Flaten has the delicious challenge of working with one of the masters of duo format. To draw a comparison between this album and Parker’s long-standing partnership with British bassist Barry Guy (another excellent player) is misleading. The instruments may be the same but Flaten is a far more percussive, less melodic player than Guy, placing more of the lyrical emphasis, if it can be called that, on Parker. The 44-minute performance is broken up into three segments and the tone of the collaboration is slightly more combative. Whereas Guy might echo Parker’s circular breathing, Flaten stabs at it, creating a wonderful three-dimensionality. Besides appearing together in Townhouse Orchestra, Flaten and Parker are new to each other and there is something compelling about hearing Parker adapt himself to playing with one of his musical heirs. Trinity’s Breaking the Mold may be the most Norwegian-sounding of any of the discs discussed here. Another followup record, the group’s name is no longer applicable since Kjetil Aster (reeds), Flaten and Thomas Stranen (drums) are joined for this album by the keyboards of Morten Ovenild. The punny title and track names “m Old,” “mo Lded,” “molD er” and “Breaking Them Old” refer to the 2006 Molde Jazz Festival where the group recorded this music. The sax-bass-drums lineup is a classic format in European improvised music and Trinity is certainly aware of both past work and future possibilities. They apply a dark sheen throughout, especially owing to the moody keyboards. Breaking the Mold isn’t quite as violent as the name might imply; the quartet often sound like they are pulling themselves back from a precipice. During the mid-2000s, Flaten relocated to Chicago: Oslo and The Windy City have a fruitful musical alliance. The bassist’s quintet is now primarily staffed by Chicagoans—Dave Rempis (saxes), Jeff Parker (guitar), Frank Rosaly (drums)—with violinist Ola Kvernberg the sole Norwegian holdover. The group’s second album, The Year of the Boar, is replete with the sort of brash funk for which the city is known. Some of the fusion elements from the earlier edition are retained, usually through Kvernberg, but the aesthetic has moved closer to that found on the Powerhouse Sound Oslo/Chicago: Breaks album from 2007. This is Flaten the composer, bandleader and logistics manager. His job is to write music that gives maximum room for this new group of musicians and this live document, once more from Belle Ville, shows Flaten acquitting himself nicely. Europe had its own fusion scene back in the 1970s and The Year of the Boar is a fine update to that tradition. The aforementioned quartets, duets and quintets—improvised or otherwise—do little to prepare listeners for Elise. Recorded at a studio in a castle estate in the Swedish countryside, Flaten arranged a number of traditional Norwegian hymns to be played by himself and countryman Hakon Kornstad (tenor saxophone and flutonette). In addition to that material, there is one co-composed song and an interpretation of Keith Jarrett’s “Death and the Flower”. There are few moments of genre recognition but primarily this is an introspective, beautifully conceived and executed album that displays a softer side to Flaten, one previously hidden. The tone is reverent and the close recording creates a feeling of church music or, appropriately, music sung in the Norwegian countryside. Flaten and Kornstad avoid stridency, allowing the exquisiteness of the melodies and their sparse arrangements to celebrate the memory of Flaten’s titular grandmother.