Feb 6 2014
One of the personal conflicts I have as a music listener is balancing my time searching for the next great album and revisiting those great albums already discovered. This become increasingly problematic when the “past” albums are from decades ago, and there’s no real opportunity to combine listening with writing something for Bird is the Worm. The Safety Net review series is a great opportunity to revisit modern, older albums and still get some writing done for the site. But what if I just have to hear some jazz that sounds more like the Jazz that I grew up listening to, the Jazz that originally pulled me in? That’s why it’s especially gratifying to discover a new recording that fills that need, while still presenting something New and Today to also satisfy my search for the next great album.
The trio of Jonas Kullhammar, Espen Aalberg, and Torbjorn Zetterberg are where I go when I need a modern fix of John Coltrane. Their new release Basement Sessions Vol.2 is swimming in Coltrane classic quartet releases on Impulse Records, titles like Coltrane, Impressions, and The John Coltrane Quartet Plays… when Coltrane was finding freer forms of expression and combining them with a foundation of spirituality.
Your album personnel: Jonas Kullhammar (tenor sax), Espen Aalberg (drums), and Torbjorn Zetterberg (bass).
This is music possessed of an unrelenting drive and paired with an elegant lyricism. Opening out “Moksha” with meditative bass arco and ending with the intermittent splash of cymbals and saxophone fluttering lightly off onto the horizon, separated by powerful improvisations… there is an almost meditative quality to this very intense music.
“Oort Cloud” has sax taking calculated steps then suddenly leaping off any cliff it can find and flapping its wings furiously on the way down. Meanwhile, drums and bass both forge ahead determinedly, contrasting vividly with Kullhammar’s demeanor on saxophone. “Elvin’s Birthday Song” opens with some tuneful, understated playing, as if setting the scene before telling the story. The conflict is played out by Aalberg’s torrential downpour of rhythm, clearing everything out but the sound of its impact.
The live wire crackle of drums on “Triton” match brilliantly with saxophone trills… a sensation made more thrilling by the way Zetterberg’s bass whips around them both. And “One for Joe” is more about the trio interlocking their parts into one seamless thread of motion.
The album ends with “Moserobie Blues,” a song that swings at a gallop’s speed, seeming to fly perpetually an inch from the ground at all times. And it’s that kind of intensely driven, yet tuneful lyricism that is so damn inviting about this music. This is what saxophone trios are capable of… an unrelenting fury that still relates an engaging story. So damn good.
Released on Clean Feed Records.
Jazz from the Orminge, Sweden scene.
Other Things You Should Probably Know:
So, you’re probably wondering about the first volume of this series. It’s not quite as driving as Volume 2, allows silence to become a factor, and is far more understated at times. I believe over on the Clean Feed blog, they reference Sonny Rollins for this recording, and that’s not too far off. While the Coltrane reference is still probably strongest for that first album, I get where that Rollins name drop is coming from. I liked their album well enough, but don’t find it nearly as enchanting as their newest.
Here’s a LINK to a Soundcloud page that streams an album track from Basement Sessions Vol. 1. I don’t think it’s necessarily representative of the entire album, but it’s something I guess.