Feb 18 2013
On Dancing On Air, violinist Line Kruse takes a largely untraveled path that straddles both Latin and Nordic schools of Jazz, offering up a fascinating concoction of dreamy ambiance crosshatched with chipper rhythms and folk music excursions.
Schooled in Copenhagen, but, later, a member of electro-tango ensemble Gotan Project, Kruse has cut her teeth in the two subgenres of Jazz she seeks to merge. This is compelling music, but, very sweetly, interacts with something of a passive nature… which makes it easy to stay engaged with the music while, at the same time, just sitting back and drifting off into thought. Just a beautiful album.
Your album personnel: Line Kruse (violin, flutes), Jean Yves Jung (piano), Lars Danielsson (bass), Minino Garay (drums, bombo & percussion), Miguel Ballumbrosio (cajón, zapateo, bata-cajón, quijada), Manu Sauvage (programming), Jean Pierre Smadja (oud), Nico Morelli (Fender Rhodes), Fabrizio Fenoglietto (bass), Michel Feugère (trumpet), Denis Leloup (trombone), Stéphane Chausse (clarinet), and Julie Gros (cello).
Kruse’s ensemble gets things hopping right out of the gate with the up-tempo “Road Movie.” The rhythmic approach starts out with a Tango flair, and while Kruse toes the company line on violin, there are moments… held notes, brief digressions… when she sounds to be glancing off into other directions, and giving the briefest of hints of what is to come.
What-is-to-come arrives next. The enchanting “Wandering Winds” has a lilting grandeur, broad brushstrokes painted with a serene disposition. A strong folk music presence, the programmed sound of waves crashing the shore, Smadja’s oud twittering contentedly, and Kruse’s violin soaring placidly above it all.
Kruse is magnificent on violin, but thankfully this album isn’t just a vehicle for her to solo repeatedly. She is just as often acting in a support role for the solos of others as she is leading the charge. “Dancing on Air” has Kruse leading out on violin, then parting way for Jung’s enchanting piano section. When she re-enters, her interplay with bass is just wonderful.
Speaking of bass, on this recording, the bass position is manned by Lars Danielsson, who has received many mention this site, for albums both under his own name and those of others. He clearly has his own voice and vision when it’s his own name in the bold print on the album cover, and I do admire his ability to sublimate his distinctive sound to mesh with the vision of others. His inclusion on this album was a wise choice by Kruse.
On “Smoke,” the addition of Morelli’s Fender Rhodes gives an 80’s Miles Davis trip-groove to a Latin-funk party vibe.
The title track is as symbolic of Kruse’s deft touch on balancing the Nordic and Latin Jazz influences. Opening with an enchanting section right out of the heart of Copenhagen, the song delves into Latin motifs for the duration of the song, only returning to the Nordic influence for the finale. Notable is the song’s immaculate cohesion. Also notable is how the prevalent warmth is dispersed evenly throughout the song’s length… the coolness of the Nordic folk balances with the heat of the Latin jazz. An enthralling tune.
“Recuerdos” is highlighted by an inviting percussive tableau and violin swooping just over its crest. “Dolan” is a hyperactive burner, with Kruse bringing the heat on violin, but then quenching the fire with soft flute. “Festejo” is, yes, festive… a chipper tune that keeps up the conversation.
Kruse performs a version of Erik Satie’s “Gymnopédie No. 1.” I formally request that more jazz artists perform this composition, and I’d like them to perform it at least as equally well as Kruse’s ensemble does here. Kruse captures the languorous beauty of this tune, then gives it her own earthy tones and textures. Outstanding.
The album ends with “Spring,” which adds a whisper of the pop-orchestral of classic movie soundtracks to a song with a freshness and youth that is simply buoyant.
I’m surprised there isn’t more chatter about this album around the internet. It’s an excellent release that deserves some serious attention. I discovered it the same day it was released, and my first impression of it was strong enough for me to rank it highly as one of my eMusic Jazz Picks. And now, one month and many many listens later, this album just keeps getting better.
Released on the Stunt Records label.
Jazz from the Paris, France scene.