Recommended: Kvartett – “Vekk”


Kvartett - "Vekk"It’s the illusory sense that this is a Nordic Jazz album that makes Vekk so damn absorbing.  And though members of Kvartett (consisting of saxophonist Erik Bogaerts, pianist Alexi Tuomarila, bassist Axel Gilain and drummer Lionel Beuvens) do hail from lands that generally offer up that particular style of folk-jazz serenity, there’s never anything more than a strong hint of that on Vekk… but it’s just the right amount and inserted at just the right spots to resonate strongly throughout this excellent EP.

Typically, that serenity leads each song out, rarely returning unless for the final wave goodbye.  Title-track “Vekk” has the anxious moan of bass arco, the breathy hiss of sax, and percussion that jangles and thumps with a quiet discord.  “Masar” opens like a track from a Marcin Wasilewski Trio recording, a comparison that doesn’t lose any of its significance with the addition of saxophone and the train of patient expressions occasionally broken by sudden talkative bursts.  No different on “Hymne,” where lilting saxophone phrases sent drifting out over the surface of a glittering piano trio instill a gorgeous, peaceful ambiance that could put an ECM Records release to shame.  “Ner6ens” is contemplative piano music with the faintest hint of bass accompaniment.  It’s the only one of four tracks that keeps things peaceful throughout its duration.

On the other tracks, though, once that opening expression of serenity has ended, things get heated.  Tempos pick up the pace, solos go from introspective statements to riveting dialog, and group interplay becomes a tool for dramatic rises and falls.  And it’s the group interplay that wins the day for this recording.  On title-track “Vekk,” the combined effect of saxophone sighs, the dancing footsteps of drums, the long loping strides of bass, and the furious attack of piano snap neatly into place while simultaneously offering a world of contradictions and the lovely tension that results from that particular symbiosis of opposing factors.  The intersecting lines of “Masar” keep the ear engaged from a number of angles, especially when those lines converge and a dispersion of sound becomes a satisfying, united front.  Equally enjoyable is the way soloists and support staff trade off the melody of “Ner6ens,” disregarding who, exactly, is supposed to be the one improvising at the time.  And then there’s the way that the quartet moves with a common motion on album-closer “Hymne,” building a thick ambiance through common vision and direction, weaving their parts into the detail of the rhythm and melody both.

This is one of those albums that’ll pull you right on in and won’t let get go.  I find myself returning to it with greater and greater frequency.  It hits the right spot.

The album is Self-Produced.

Jazz from the Antwerp, Belgium scene.

Available at:  Bandcamp | eMusic | CDBaby | Amazon MP3