Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mathias Eick - Skala (ECM Records, 2011)

Norwegian multi-instrumentalist Mathias Eick performs in a number contexts, from the hard to classify fusion group Jaga Jazzist to his jazz recordings as a leader and a sideman for ECM Records. This album adds a pop sheen to an interesting group consisting of a wide variety of musicians and musical textures. Eick primarily plays the trumpet with a light and airy tone that adds an air of mystery to the opener “Skala.” Against a gentle soundscape backdrop, the group builds a cinematic improvisation based spacious piano chords. “Edinburgh” introduces a pulsing tempo with saxophone and trumpet playing lightly against a propulsive rhythm. Eick develops his solo well and gets stronger as the song progresses before returning to gentle interplay with piano. “June” is a performance filled with fog shrouded shadows as light piano and breathy trumpet add to the haunted feeling. Spare, icy trumpet introduces “Oslo” overdubbing for a very interesting effect before the band comes in with an interesting beat and piano riff. They work the dynamics well, even approaching funk at times, before dialing down to spare trumpet and piano. The slow beat and spare brass return on “Biermann” where the leader builds calmly to a majestic trumpet solo over compelling beats and comping. Strong piano vamp and probing trumpet mark “Day After” with a nice insistent beat allowing the musicians (including excellent saxophone) a stable platform to improvise over. This was an enjoyable album that was consistently interesting and challenging. Taking “fusion” in a new direction, Eick is developing a unique aesthetic for his music which serves him well. Skala - amazon.com

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