Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Atomic - Theatre Tilters, Vol. 1 (Jazzland, 2010)

Atomic is a veritable Scandinavian jazz supergroup, consisting of Fredrik Ljungkvist on saxophones, and clarinet, Magnus Broo on trumpet, Havard Wilk on piano, Ingebrigt Haker Flaten on bass, and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums. The make music that blurs the intersection of hard bop and free jazz, staking out exciting territory for their sonic explorations. Taken from live recordings made at Teater Lederman in Stockholm in October 2009, the album opens with "Green Mill Tilter" which has a fast collective beginning, giving way to strong tenor saxophone over insistent percussion. Strong, fast free improvisation is the name of the game, with the horns riffing hard over deep piano, bass and drums. Great sax and drums drive the music to a fine conclusion. Spacey percussion develops "Andersonville" with the horns and piano swirling about in open space. Clarinet and piano play off against Broo's horn and brushed percussion. After a quirky interlude Broo steps out with a medium tempo strut and then leads the full band to a strong finale. Nilssen-Love's great drum work is the centerpiece of "Fissures" with killing percussion and torrid trumpet leading the free-bop charge. The music downshifts dramatically to an open and deft bass solo. After this passes they come back together to ramp things back up to a big cacophonous finish. "Murmansk" opens with spacey solo clarinet, abstract and probing. The horns develop a complex riffing, with drums and piano slowly rising. Nilssen-Love takes an intricate solo, building conceptual ideas throughout. The group ends the set with a bang on "Bop About," a thrilling free-bop blowout. Fast and wild, it shows the band at their most impish and free developing a playful and exciting collective improvisation. Atomic is one of the leading lights of the European jazz scene, and this is another fine album to add to their discography. Navigating both structured and free/abstract material, with aplomb, they keep their music continually interesting and exciting.Theater Tilters, Vol. 1 -

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