Tag Archives: Trinity

All About Jazz Italy review by Luca Vitali

Trinity – Breaking the Mold (CF 139)

Trinity è un quartetto che come Supersilent, Atomic, The Thing riunisce improvvisatori di gran classe che sanno forgiare musica tellurica caratterizzata da indipendenza e originalità.
Vero leader di questa formazione è Kjetil Moster, ex sassofonista dei Core, che dopo alcuni anni trascorsi in Sudafrica e frequentazioni rock/hardcore con Datarock è tornato, ormai da qualche tempo, al jazz.
Registrazione live, colta nel 2006 a Molde, con Morten Qvenild (leader di In The Country e Magical Orchestra con Susanna Wallumrod) alle tastiere, Ingebrit Haker Flaten al basso e Thomas Stronen alla batteria. Attacco furioso che lentamente lascia spazio a sonorità più tranquille anche se sempre molto cupe, scure.
Musica che in qualche modo si addice all’etichetta Clean Feed, di area free, ma in cui le influenze schizoidi ed elettroniche in pieno stile Supersilent si fanno sentire. Momenti di flebile lacerante lamento del sax su fondali di organo, basso, batteria ed elettronica che si alternano a tratti più tesi e convulsi, piccole eruzioni telluriche che animano un magma sonoro di grande intensità.

Moster esplora al meglio le possibilità timbriche dello strumento avventurandosi in territori inusuali per un sax tenore, assai più vicini alle sonorità del flauto. Qvenild incastona autentiche gemme dal sapore quasi pop in un tessuto sonoro di grande coesione e compattezza, il drumming di Stronen è fitto e colorito, mai giocato sui muscoli, dribbla in agilità creando fitte texture con la maestria, più pacata del solito, di Flaten, stranamente preponderante all’archetto, per un risultato collettivo di grande interazione ed emozione.
Ancora una volta è difficile definire questo disco come jazz, ma perché classificarlo ad ogni costo, quando in fondo si tratta di buona musica nata dalla grande vocazione per l’improvvisazione e frutto di diversi, e non per questo in collisione, background musicali?…

Temporary Fault review by Massimo Ricci

A Pair Of Not So Recent Clean Feeds
With many more to come (…). This makes me think that roundup reviews are not so useful after all. In the future I won’t wait for publishing a write-up until having listened eight CDs of the same label. It’s probably better to break them in smaller groups, or it could take years…

TRINITY – Breaking The Mold (CF 139)
A Norwegian quartet mingling dissimilar influences – jazz, space rock, harsh electronica – through predominantly jarring procedures that could appear scarcely lucid on a first try, but instead let slip a substantial degree of imagination. Ultimately, and most important, Trinity don’t sound like anything else (at least in the Clean Feed catalogue). All the four members have gone through the most disparate kind of collaboration: Jaga Jazzist to Mats Gustafsson, Raoul Bjorkenheim to Nate Wooley, the leader – saxophonist and clarinettist Kjetil Møster – a metal rock bassist in his past, before switching to reeds. Implausible yet efficient solutions abound, powerful sax blasts juxtaposed with half-ethereal, half-acrid atonal keyboard fluids (Morten Qvenild) that possess the rare gift of not sounding like an amassment of presets. The “rhythm section” – bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten and drummer Thomas Strønen – is in actuality half of a palette where abstraction, violence, rituality and persuasive soloing succeed, seemingly in lack of a definite compositional planning. The complete nonexistence of ambassadorial accents and inconclusively politic neutrality typical of a fat chunk of contemporary jazz brings the whole to an acceptable balance, though. After a couple of spins one realizes that these bizarre sonic concoctions cannot be filed in the archive of banality, despite the difficulty of welcoming them with real infatuation. In any case Trinity deserve attention, if only for their different sound and explorative curiosity.

HERCULANEUM – Herculaneum III (CF 140)
Given the presence of a flute (Nate Lepine) and the album title, one would think about Focus. But this record is more like a finely detailed replica of certain past atmospheres involving medium-sized jazz combos and larger orchestral entities, the music skilfully devised in absolute respect for the tradition, lush arrangements and extensive solo sections alternated with sapience and sensitiveness. The large part of the tracks were written by drummer and vibraphonist Dylan Ryan, which might appear as an oddity but it’s not, the music possessing indeed an effervescent pulse that animates scores where, in some circumstances, the tremendous contrapuntal richness might induce someone to think to relative sluggishness. In that sense, David Mcdonnell (alto sax, clarinet), Nick Broste (trombone) and Patrick Newbery (trumpet and flugelhorn) provide a significant miscellany of non-invasive colloquialism and management of virtuosity, gratifying the ears with a melange of piquancy and obedience. Guitarist John Beard’s clean-toned rationality and bassist Greg Danek’s solidly corpulent presence complete an ensemble that consider revolution a dated concept while trying to revolutionize behind-the-times music. One can’t help but admit that listening to this attempt equals a lovely chat with a beautifully aged woman; even lovers of Frank Zappa’s The Grand Wazoo could find something palatable here. Good stuff.

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.

Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten feature on Chicago reader by Peter Margasak

329852499_82bd246cf5A whole lotta Haaker Flaten going on

Powerful Norwegian bassist Ingebrigt Haaker Flaten spent a little more than two years living in Chicago, from January 2006 to spring 2008, and when he wasn’t on the road–which was most of the time–he fit in well. That is, he played steadily in all kinds of groups, some of them working bands and others one-off ad hoc lineups. Haaker Flaten went back to Oslo after the romantic relationship that brought him to town ended, but his musical relationship with Chicago had started long before he moved here and continues to this day. Tomorrow he returns for the first of a slew of gigs that run through Sunday.

Since his departure Haaker Flaten has released music pretty steadily, beginning with The Year of the Boar (Jazzland), from the quintet he formed with Chicagoans Jeff Parker, Frank Rosaly, and Dave Rempis–the fifth member, violinist Ola Kvernberg, was a holdover from the Oslo version of the group. Cut live during a European tour in 2007, it makes clear that Haaker Flaten shares a key quality with his Chicago counterparts–driving, insatiable energy. His compositions are typically packed with two or three discrete episodes, and most of the time he opts for muscular passages that stomp rather than swing–though his occasional explorations of space and calm, like a bit in “90/94” where Parker toys with texture and color, are satisfying too.

On Play Complete Communion (Bolage) Haaker Flaten joins saxophonist Atle Nymo and drummer Håkon Mjåset Johansen (both of whom are members of the excellent quintet Motif) to perform the two suites that make up the classic Don Cherry album (you guessed it) Complete Communion. Nymo does a fine job tracing the trumpeter’s indelible themes, which are meticulously crafted vehicles for improvisation. The trio don’t veer too far from the originals–you can hear their reverence for the material–but it still makes for an enjoyable listen.

Trinity is, oddly enough, a quartet with Haaker Flaten on bass, but this band traverses much different territory. Breaking the Mold (Clean Feed), recorded live at the Molde Jazz Festival in 2006, is an all-improvised set that mixes spacey contemplation with emotionally charged outbursts. Saxophonist Kjetil Møster (the Core) can blow free with the best of them, but he exercises a lot of restraint here, creating ambience at least as often as he knocks down walls. Drummer Thomas Strønen (Humcrush) has great timing, but he’s generally more interested in color, and he frequently turns to hydroplaning cymbal bowing or gentle pattering instead of steady timekeeping. Keyboardist Morten Qvenild (In the Country) might be the driving force by default–it’s his electronic keyboard that tends to determine whether the music switches into celestial mode or stays rooted in hard-charging fusion.

Finally, Haaker Flaten has released a couple of fine duo recordings. The Brewery Tap (Smalltown Superjazz) pairs him with legendary free-jazz saxophonist Evan Parker, who plays tenor for the session; though there are highly charged, frenetic passages, with the reedist blowing choked, gnarled lines and the bassist uncorking tightly bunched pointillistic patterns, the duo frequently engage in more spacious, temperate exchanges. It’s always hard to resist Parker’s trademark circular-breathing displays, but it’s really nice to hear him shape his probing lines in a more gentle, patient fashion.

The Haaker Flaten recording I’ve enjoyed the most over the past year–discounting the latest set from the quintet Atomic–is Elise (Hemlandssånger Compunctio), a duo recording with saxophonist Håkon Kornstad. The Elise of the title was the bassist’s grandmother, whose interpretations of folk hymns from the early-19th-century Haugian Revival were recorded by Norwegian National Radio in the 70s. The lyrics came from church hymnals as well books like Vægteren, a volume published in Minneapolis by a Norwegian Haugian community, but the melodies are rooted from oral folk traditions. The album opens with a brief a cappella recording by Elise Haaker, the only song with any vocals at all; six of the eight remaining tracks are instrumental adaptations of these hymns, in which the duo tease out the gorgeous melodies and reshape them gently to fit jazz language. There’s also one free improvisation and a lovely reading of Keith Jarrett’s “Death and the Flower.” The depth of feeling and degree of sensitivity here reminds me of Ornette Coleman’s beautiful duo recordings with bassist Charlie Haden, even though the music sounds totally different.