May 3 2013
Not often that I get to feature an album that shines the spotlight on the tuba, but on Conrairo, Lars Andreas Haug offers up a trio of tuba, tubax, and a tubmarine. The tubax is a woodwind instrument that falls in the range between tuba and baritone sax. But it’s the tubmarine that lends some real intrigue… a homemade instrument derived from a horizontal sawn-off tuba with a long periscope-like tube. Haug feels that the tubmarine allows him more “attack” and “punch” than an ordinary tuba, and also allows him to employ it in a larger role as a rhythmic tool.
Adding to the challenge of adding these three low-end instruments into the mix is that Conrairo is pretty much, for all intents and purposes, a Nordic Jazz recording. But somehow, Haug manages to incorporate these heavy instruments without shattering the music’s delicate serenity.
Your album personnel: Lars Andreas Haug (soprano sax, tuba, tubmarine), Frode Haltli (accordion), Helge Lien (rhodes, piano), Gunnar Halle (trumpet) Camilla Susann Haug (instrumental vocals), Knut Aalefjær (drums) and Steffen Schorn (tubax).
All of the album tracks have an upbeat personality. Some possess a convivial energy, like the catchy little groove on title-track “Conrairo,” and “Vicvac,” which speeds right along, never slowing down but also never getting too far out ahead. “Sarplaniac” has drummer Aalefjær propelling the ensemble into a celebratory march. A series of brief solos highlight the song near its conclusion, most notably a trumpet burst of wild euphoria by Halle. “Baxter” displays that tuba can be spry on its feet, despite the heft of its notes, and deftly carry a cheerful tune.
However, the real charm of this album is found in those tracks which move at a more deliberate pace and allow the natural redolence of the notes linger before moving on to the next idea. “Sinrairo” is a bewitching lullaby of exquisite beauty. The peacefulness of “Cripos” is punctuated by the lovely interplay between Halle’s trumpet and Haltli’s accordion. “Lenki” has an impish personality, with Lien mischievously hinting at a groove on Rhodes while Haug blankets the tune with a fluttering soprano sax. And opening track “January” has a quiet liveliness, the tranquility of ducks bobbing on gentle waves… a predisposition to simply float, but the insinuation that a burst of wings could lead to flight at any moment. Camilia Susann Haug’s vocalizations add some lovely harmony in the space between accordion and trumpet.
The livelier tracks are interspersed between the quieter tracks, and the resulting flow of music from song to song has each quality enhancing its opposite to nice effect.
An enjoyable album that hasn’t waned for me since I made it one of my eMusic Jazz Picks over two months ago.
Released on the Curling Legs label.
Jazz from Norway.