Lars Danielsson/Paolo Fresu: Summerwind

review summerwind x1 cong

Some albums simply blindside you: a few plays of moderate attention and suddenly you love it. Such is the case with this minimalist late night jazz album that leans towards trip hop.

We initially thought the laid-back set would be for people who find late night jazz too loud. As its depths began to unfold, it started to remind us of Radioaxiom: A Dub Transmission, an album by Bill Laswell and Jah Wobble that was less dub (which for those who don’t know is reggae stripped down to drum and bass — the riddim) and more world and jazz, and very space-y, both in terms of its use of silence and out-thereness.

Radioaxiom is of a genre that’s hard to place: dub without the reggae and trip hop without the beats, but for simplicity’s sake we’ll call it dub; on this CD, Stanna Tid (“stop time”) is very close to being dub, though others are more jazz.

Danielsson is a bassist — double, not Jah Wobble’s electric but often a similar sound — and cellist, and Fresu a trumpeter, his instrument often giving it the Laswell feel.

Jazz label ACT has united them for Summerwind — 15 instrumentals that are mostly originals; five are not their own, and one of those is by Bach.

Radioaxiom featured cornet and trumpet, the latter from Nils Petter Molvaer, who has played with Fresu, so this resemblance in sound is possibly not coincidental; Molvaer’s solo work is more jazz-based but still hard to pin down.

This is an album of contrasts: despite the laidback, sparse sound it’s an uplifting album, the listener being drawn into the groove; the sound is rich while being tranquil and calming; the playing is casually expressive but, as the sleeve notes say: they are “two musicians who choose the notes they play with extreme care”.

It’s clearly jazz but dub aside, there’s some folk influence (Amigos momentarily goes a bit eastern) and there’s a touch of the classical.

The opener, a cover of Autumn Leaves, promises a predictable night-time jazz album and Fresu’s Saluto Dardamente, which comes next, is more of the same. Le Matin slowly nods at more expressive and livelier jazz. The dub/space jazz feel comes in with Jag Lyfter Ögat Mot Himmelen (“I lift my eye toward the sky”), where the bass underpins ethereal horn.

Un Vestido Y Un Amor (“A dress and a love”) steals its opening notes from Laswell before becoming more familiar jazz.

Basically: a work of genius. For fans of late night jazz, anyone who likes Bill Laswell, and open-minded dub and trip hop fans. “Gorgeous and with depth” say the Press notes, and for once we think the publicists are being too modest.

The cover art is by Olav Christopher Jenssen: Journal July 30th 2011.
Out on ACT 9871-2.

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