Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Kullhammar/Aalberg/Zetterberg - Basement Sessions Vol. 1 (Clean Feed, 2012)

In the notes on the Clean Feed Records web site, they are almost apologetic about this album, likening it to a refugee from the "hard bop museum." I think they doth protest too much, because this is an excellent album of crackling modern jazz that does nod to Rollins and Coltrane, but makes no bones about going its own way in a thoroughly modern fashion. The band is a collective of Jonas Kullhammar on saxophones, Espen Aalberg on drums and Torbjurn Zetterberg on bass. The opening "As Tajm Goes By" sets the tone for the remainder of the album with a fast uptempo trio improvisation bookending an open bass and percussion feature. The rubber really meets the road on ”7th Father" where the band takes off at a very fast clip, featuring Kullhammar great saxophone (tenor or baritone?) and using overblown accents to ramp up the excitement. The whole trio is playing like gangbusters on this one, strong freebop anchored by great drumming. Slow bass and almost surreal saxophone playing open ”Den Stora Vantan” with low blowing down deep giving the music an ominous feel of a late night foghorn cutting across a lonely sea, giving way to deep peals of anguished saxophone, making for a true dark night of the soul. With that excoriating performance out of their system, ”Pontiac” develops as a three way stylish modern jazz improvisation. Kullhammar builds tension with a repetitive figure before breaking into a powerful solo. This is well controlled and articulated jazz with a great rhythmic base from the bass and drums. Aalberg takes a brief drum solo to open ”Shadow” making way for strong bass and saxophone with a piercing tone. The trio networks well at fast tempos as Kullhammar breaks free for an exciting statement. The passion builds as he takes his solo into the upper reaches of the saxophone and spreads the wealth for a nice bass and drums feature. Basement Sessions Vol.1 - amazon.com

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