Monday, December 18, 2017

Pan-Scan Ensemble - Air and Light and Time and Space (PNL Records, 2017)

The Pan-Scan Ensemble (Bandcamp; You Tube: Cafe Mir, Kongsberg) is an improvising big band that makes the most of the possibles of a stellar crew of musicians including Anna Hogberg, Lotte Anker and Julie Kjær on saxophones and flute, Paal Nilssen-Love and Stale Liavik Solberg on drums and percussion, Sten Sandell on piano, Emil Strandberg, Goran Kajfes and Thomas Johansson on trumpet. It is a very talented group which is able to take a dynamic approach to their music, moving from abstract improvisation to thrilling all-in blowouts. The album was recorded live in Oslo during December of 2016, and it is split into two tracks, beginning with "Air and Light" which shows how contrasting texture is the key to the album's success. Subtle percussion gives a sense of openness to the beginning of the performance, creating connections to rhythmic concepts that will serve the group as a whole as the music progresses. The two percussionists open a thoughtful dialogue, enriching the conversation with unusual patterns, as the remainder of the band begins to fold in. Piano ripples manically while taut trumpet sparks the music to greater speed and depth. The full band comes in with the weight of the horn section carving out an exciting collective improvisation, shifting nimble shades of sound which adds further color to the music, developing in space as the percussion lays out, with snarling sputters of saxophone juxtaposed against arcing wails of trumpet. This is followed by the thirty-three minute plus "Time and Space," a performance that takes those notions seriously and searches for musical meaning within that context. The sound is inclusive, welcoming each member of the group (who are often leaders in their own right) to make a contribution to the artistic whole. Warm droplets of piano are cast amidst brass and percussion, weaving in and out of near silence then creating a buzzing hive of abstract sound, that builds to an imaginative collective improvisation which gains speed and power in a majestic fashion, creating a very exciting and colorful peak by inspiring a sense of in the moment interaction. The music upends the traditional roles of the jazz ensemble by staying away from predictable forms, and allowing freedom the reign supreme within the textures and sounds. Flute and trumpet enter into an interesting dialogue, spiraling around each other in open and unencumbered space, then the proceedings begin to build up for a larger grouping of instruments, engaging with each other in a creative fashion, swelling into a living berating organism with everyone straining forward. The music blooms into an exciting interaction between tenor saxophone and drums, both slashing across the sound stage in a vital and bracing manner, creating one of the high points of the album. Further textures are woven between the percussionists and the ever shifting horn section, everyone comes together, building the conclusion to hair raising level and placing an indelible stamp of quality and passion on the album. Air And Light And Time and Space -

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