Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Large Unit - Fluku (PNL Records, 2017)

This album is the latest in a series of large ensemble recordings led by the drummer and composer Paal Nilssen-Love, in this case a thirteen piece group of some of the best players on the Scandinavian jazz scene that can swing madly, blast off toward freedom or develop an abstract impressionist impression, all at the drop of a hat. The ensemble playing is top notch and the soloing is impassioned and exciting. The massive title track “Fluku” anchors the recording over twenty four minutes in length opening with snarling electronics and insistent and shimmering cymbals, with a huge flying wedge of riffing horns leads to raucous interplay between the reeds, developing interesting shading and textures midst the bellowing cries. They flee the field for a powerhouse trumpet solo egged on by bubbling percussion and elastic bass. This massive explosion develops an exciting dynamic balance between all out free improvisation, and a quieter middle section that allows more subtle moods and hues to develop. The rest of the album stays true to the mission allowing the possibilities of the large ensemble format to present themselves with strong compositions launching spirited improvisations, like the brief “Springsummer” which has a quiet gestation with respectful brass and a subtle interlude for clarinet, with spare brushed percussion, the whole performance a master class in restraint which leads into the lengthy sixteen minute “Playgo.” This is another powerful performance, with staggered horns gradually building the pace with pointillist bass, giving way to a loping swing that drives the music forward with the strutting and proud horns leading the way, and a saxophone which draws runes in the sky over an insistent percolating beat. “Happy Slappy” is the final performance, one that is very exciting, with growling brass and slashing drums battling as madly riffing horns and electronics join the fray. The band moves into a tight and impressive collective improvisation with instruments bubbling to the top and then replaced, just as quickly giving the music a very colorful sensation, leading to a powerful and satisfying finish. This was a very fulfilling and pleasing album from a very talented band, satisfying aesthetically while still packing a mighty wallop. Fluku - PNL Records Bandcamp

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