Jan 10 2016
I’ve put down more than a few words about the music of guitarist Jakob Bro on this site (and others), and without exception, it gets tagged with descriptors like “tranquility” and “serenity.” And there’s good reason for that, since so much of his music possesses a lullaby quality that ushers in only sweet dreams after the final note has sounded. So, it’s a thrilling turn of events to hear him bring a much bigger, much louder sound with this tentet recording. On Hymnotic/Salmodisk, he either doubles or triples-up with drummers, bassists and saxophonists, plus adds a keyboardist and his own guitar. The finer details are still there, but they’re wound up tight in thick harmonies, and they spring to life with the slightest flicker of a match. Adding intrigue to the mix is the occasional contribution of poet (and fellow Dane) Peter Laugesen, whose recitations provide a needed respite from the ensemble’s waves of intensity, but also whose deep register is a susurrant counterbalance to the wailing and shouting of instruments reaching for the skies. This music possesses a wild, crazy euphoria, and somehow Bro is able to bottle it up and serve it neat, no kick, no recoil. And the way he intersperses the measured vocal tracks throughout the raw, wild energy provides a wonderful rise and fall of intensity that is responsible for this music’s sheer addictiveness.
The opening track “Mergelgrav” behaves like a preamble with its simmering intensity, its occasional blasts of power and the deadpan repetition of Laugesen’s spoken words like choppy waves getting ever closer to scaling the pier and splashing onto the streets. It’s a particularly nice transition, then, to go from the possibility of chaos to, instead, the genial chatter of “Daybreak,” a song that skitters right along at a brisk pace and holds up intertwining melodic threads for all to see.
“Tinkerslotte” sees the return of spoken word to the mix. This time around, Laugesen’s voice utilizes a storyteller’s phrasings and meter. His delivery is one that doesn’t exclude those who aren’t Danish-speaking… the rise and fall of his voice, the changes in pace and tone, and riveting turn of phrase wrapped up in saxophone wails and patter of drums grabs the ear tight. And like before with the previous track accompanied by the recitation of poetry, it creates a remarkable lift-off point for the shout-to-the-skies energy of “I Do Remember,” a song balanced out by a melodic sensibility more akin to the slow, sweet reveries of a contemplative mood.
The thick melancholy of “Altings Ophav” is a nice change of pace as far as emotional texture goes… a bit of the eye of the storm tranquility. And with a series of volatile blasts, “Exploding Suns” takes things right back into the face of the storm from the very first notes. Of particular enjoyment is the way the tune goes from untamed wildness to a thick drawling blues, and keeps that in a holding pattern even when the surge of intensity begins yet another ascent in the background.
It’s back to a calmer state with “Visne Blade Og Sokker” as voice and double bass take turns being the raindrops pelting the roof. The album closes things out with a strong note of finality, as with the final cheers from a long night of celebrations. “Sadness Is The Gladdest Way To Feel” has a velvety tone as it cries out the blues in warm, drowsy waves full of feel. Just a brilliant way to close out this brilliant album.
It earned the #14 album of the year slot on this year’s Bird is the Worm Best of 2015 list.
Your album personnel: Jakob Bro (guitar), Peter Laugesen (poetry), Jesper Zeuthen (alto sax), Andrew D’Angelo (alto sax), Chris Speed (tenor sax), Nikolaj Torp Larsen (keyboards), Anders Christensen (bass), Thomas Morgan (bass), Nicolai Munch-Hansen (bass), Jakob Høyer (drums) and Kresten Osgood (drums).
Released on Bro’s Loveland Records.
Listen to more of the album on the artist’s Soundcloud page.
Jazz from the Copenhagen, Denmark scene.
This album is a free download on Jakob Bro’s site (LINK).
In addition, you can buy the album as an LP from the artist’s site (LINK).
Read about some of Jakob Bro’s other recordings (LINK) on this site.