Recommended: Bugge Wesseltoft & Henning Kraggerud – “Last Spring”


Pianist Bugge Wesseltoft is no stranger to contemplative music.  An elegance only exceeded by its delicacy, many is the time I’ve drifted off to one of his records while watching the snow fall over the landscape on a Winter afternoon.

Typically it’s been his solo albums that have caught my ear.  Enchanting, yet sparse, dreamy, yet two feet solid on the ground.  His collaborations with vocalist Sidsel Endresen were nice enough endeavors, but they had a bit more pop/mainstream sound to them than I cared for, and the inclusion of percussion in these recordings seemed to push Wesseltoft into the atmospheric realm of fellow-Norwegian Nils Petter Molvaer.  Again, nice enough and all, but I prefer the earthy reverence of his solo work.

Still, I always found myself wishing for something more.

On Last Spring, I figured out what that was.

Your album personnel: Bugge Wesseltoft (piano) and Henning Kraggerud (viola, violin, viola concorda).

Wesseltoft has found the perfect match in violinist Henning Kraggerud.  Their meditative sounds merge seamlessly, and create a spark of life that’s simply intoxicating.  This is music that makes each note count, but doesn’t fall into the trap of presenting Very Serious Music.  Last Spring is a joyful event.  It’s the kind of joy that barely disturbs the air in the room.  Sit back and revel in it.

Jazz, classical, and folk musics all get hit on here.  More often than not, it’s one or the other.

The interplay between the two possesses a conversant congeniality that makes it easy to envision both musicians smiling as they trade notes.  It has me thinking back to the nice duo collaboration between pianist McCoy Tyner and violinist Stephane Grappelli (One on One, released in 1991 on the Milestone label).

The interplay between the two possesses a fluid motion that makes it easy to envision both musicians losing themselves in the music being created as they blend notes.  It has me thinking back to the sublime duo collaborations between pianist Ketil Bjornstad and cellist David Darling (The River and Epigraphs, both released on ECM in 1996 and 2000 respectively).

The interplay between the two makes this a winning album.

And in the next few weeks, when snow finally signals that Winter has arrived in my hometown, I’ll be drifting off peacefully to Last Spring.

Released on the ACT Music label.

Jazz from the Norwegian scene.

Available at eMusic | Amazon CD | Amazon MP3