Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Gard Nilssen Acoustic Unity - Elastic Wave (ECM Records, 2022)

Drummer Gard Nilssen brings his progressive jazz group Acoustic Unity to ECM Records for a new album featuring André Roligheten on tenor, soprano and bass saxophones and clarinet and Petter Eldh and double bass. For this LP, the group focuses on dynamics, where their playing is intimate and closely spaced, and the quality of the recording brings out much of the detail of the their instruments. This allows them to explore more a nuanced and textured approach to improvisation and development. Despite that, indeed because of it, the music is challenging and exciting throughout, and the musicians are playing as well as can be in this hothouse setting, performing improvised music in an appealing and concentrated form. This may stem from the fact that their music has been honed by the length of time they have been playing together and vigorous nature of the band's sound comes for the crucible of playing many concerts together and developing a near telepathic mindset. Their improvisations are very powerful, and they are able to move in an a continuously impressive manner whether the music comes in a melodic or freely improvised format. Roligheten's reeds achieve a wide range of sounds and tones that make a vivid statement as the drums grow more aggressive. He can dig in or lay off his tone as the drums push harder and the bass pulsates, resulting in trio improvising that is first rate. The anticipation and tension that the musicians are able to build in their performances is palpable, coming from a sense of trust and willingness to move from a swinging sense of pulse to distinctive melodies. These are among the defining attributes of the group which addresses fiery anthems and abstract ballads with equal conviction. This was an very well planned and executed album, and this performance shows that they can conjure emotion at a hushed silence, and use dynamism to create a number of fast paced and fluid pieces that combine to create a wide ranging and well executed program. Elastic Wave - amazon.com

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