Tag Archives: The Godforgottens

JazzWord review by Ken Waxman

The Godforgottens – Never Forgotten, Always Remembered (CF 164)
Atomic – Theater Tilters Vol. 1 (Jazzland)

Swedish trumpeter Magnus Broo and Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love are the soldering points of both these CDs. However, not only is each disc significant in its own way, but the thought process involved in creation is as different as the other musicians involved.

Energetic Young Lions with class, the five members of Atomic have put together a CD of hard-hitting originals whose ball-in-socket performance speaks to the group’s constant touring over the past decade. Two other Atomics are Norwegian – pianist Håvard Wiik and bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten – and one, multi-reedist Fredrik Ljungkvist – is Swedish. Leaders in other circumstances – as are Nilssen-Love and Broo – collectively the players have worked in different groups in Europe and North America, with fellow Scandinavians, Americans, such as multi-reedist Ken Vandermark and pianist Marilyn Crispell plus Germans, including saxophonist Peter Brötzmann and trumpeter Axel Dörner.

An altogether different proposition, and recorded three years earlier, Never Forgotten, Always Remembered is more claustrophobic and atmospheric than Theater Tilters Vol. 1. Unlike his literally hard-hitting performance on the other CD, Nilssen-Love is relatively restrained here, depending more on ancillary percussion than his regular kit. Similarly Broo’s identity as a modernist Clifford Brown on the other CD is traded on Never Forgotten for the long lines and rubato timing associated with Nordic sounds and ECM records.

Eschewing the soporiferous patterns of many ECM dates and replacing them with individual quirks however is the job of the two plus the other Godforgottens. Swedish bass player Johan Berthling, a contemporary of the Norwegians, has a reach which extends into playing electro microtonalism with the likes of Australian guitarist Oren Ambarchi. The last deity-abandoned contributor is veteran keyboardist Sten Sandell, whose Gush trio set the standard for Free Jazz in Sweden. Further differentiating this session from the other, is that Sandell plays not only his usual piano, but Hammond B3 organ as well and also exposes his guttural vocalizing.

Over the course of three extended instant compositions, the quartet amasses a string of distinct and mercurial tones that are sometimes droning and sometimes shrill. Hand slapping his strings or sawing them to induce tonal tension, Berthling provides the date’s percussive centre. Nilssen-Love frequently brings forward his shaken chains and rattling bell tree as well as outlining cymbal pops and bass drum smacks, while Broo’s carefully constructed chromatic lines often give way to shrill brays and juicy tongue stops. Sandell’s on-again-off-again organ drone is in place, but so too are his key-clipping and high-frequency piano runs, usually sounded fortissimo.

Maintaining a similar pitch throughout the session builds to the nearly-20 minute “Remembered Forgotten”. It’s taken staccatissimo courtesy of the drummer’s rim shots, paradiddles and pumps plus physically powerful strums and pops from the bassist. After Broo’s linear grace notes relax into moderato fluttering, Sandell takes centre stage with techniques that flow separately from either hand: a low-pitched continuum from one and high-pitched silent movie-theatre-like riffs from the other. Berthling’s ostinato ushers in piece’s final variant, until percussion rat-tat-tats from Nilssen-Love’s and Sandell’s low-frequency organ flutters giving way to distant plunger work from Broo.

Role reversal comes for the drummer and trumpeter on the other CD, where nearly every track is characterized by vivacity and speed. This is particularly noticeable on the final tune, Ljungvist’s self-explanatory “Bop About”. Reminiscent of a Jazz Messengers showpiece, this line from the Kristinehamn-born multi-reedist follows every Hard Bop hallmark. Ljungvist’s slurs, honks and flutter tonguing are spelled by high-pitched fireworks from Broo, splayed piano comping and back-beat drumming. Then, following the turnaround, the tenor saxophonist exhibits his intense vibrato before a shout chorus brings back the head, which is repeated once again following a pause.

Less formulistic, other compositions showcase the quintet’s range. Wiik’s “Murmansk” for instance is built around horn parallelism, double counterpoint whose lines never meet. Ljungvist also shows off his clarinet skill here. Staccato blowing modulates upwards to near-altissimo shrills and as effortlessly moves downwards to pressurized squeaks. Håker Flaten’s intermittent plucks and Wiik’s staccato pitter-pattering are also featured. But the highlight is Nilssen-Love’s bravura solo, beginning with paddling and paradiddles, as he works away from the drum head centres to the rims.

One of the three Chicago-associated tunes – “Green Mill Tilter” and “Bop About” are named for Windy City clubs – “Andersonville”, is Ljungvist’s homage to the late tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson. To avoid comparisons, the reed man initially uses his clarinet to match contralto trills with Broo’s heraldic flourishes and concludes by snorting away on baritone saxophone. With the initially discordant contrapuntal horn line backed by clipped, high-frequency chording from Wiik, Håken Flaten’s ostinato and a quickening parade-ground beat from Nilssen-Love, it’s the bassist’s tough pulsing that redirects the tune to a Boppy swinger. Atop drags and flams from the drummer, the exposition is restated among Broo’s rubato blasts, then drops away for a growling baritone sax solo and some woody bass slapping.

Redefining existing styles so that they fit their personalities as if they were well-tailored suits, is evidentially the preoccupation of this group of talented Scandinavians. More to the point they do so in their own way, avoiding the slavish emulations of many of their American confreres.

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.

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.