Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Core and More - The Art of No Return (Moserobie, 2009)

The Core is a talented Norwegian jazz band consisting of Jørgen Mathisen on saxophones, Erlend Slettevold on piano, Steinar Raknes on bass and Espen Aalberg on drums. On this album they are augmented by some extra members from the exciting Scandinavian jazz scene: Magnus Broo on trumpet, Jonas Kullhammar on saxophones and Vidar Johansen on saxophones and bass clarinet. This boosts their sound to the level of a little big band, giving some of the octet and nonet textures Charles Mingus and Miles Davis used so effectively in the past. The music is a four part suite called "The Art of No Return" composed by Johansen and it begins with "Part 1" which opens with light clarinet offering a near swing feel before getting more modern and snaking and swirling in the music, getting into wilder and more free territory before the other horns reign it in. Piano, bass and drums play percussively and the horns retaliate by riffing before Broo breaks free with a solo that slows the pace. "Part 2" begins at a ballad pace with trumpet over the piano trio in a mellow fashion. The pace picks up around the 8:30 mark with a fast paced saxophone feature and then a cacophonous full band finale. "Part 3" also has a mellow opening, with a sax quartet backed by riffing horns getting a modern big band feel. Saxophones trade phrases back and forth building up heat before giving way to piano, bass and drums. Horns come back and push the McCoyTyner-ish sounding piano trio to a wild ending. Slow and reverent tenor saxophone that recalls mid-period John Coltrane begins "Part 4." The pace picks up to a killing tenor solo backed with horn riffs like a modern updating of the Africa/Brass session. Broo takes a nice solo before the whole group comes in with an interesting melody and conclusion. This album is another example of the fine jazz that is being made in the Scandinavian countries. The music draws on the textures and colors of large ensemble jazz and combines it with the fiery heat of small group post bop improvisation.

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