Marius Neset – Golden Xplosion (Edition Records EDN1027. CD Review by Chris Parker)
Describing the experience of playing with Bergen-born, Copenhagen-based saxophonist Marius Neset, his teacher at the Danish capital’s Rhythmic Music Conservatory (and the keyboard player on this album), Django Bates, resorts to a (mixed) sporting analogy: ‘like being on a bobsleigh team; his energy, speed of reflex and superb technique enable him to keep changing up a gear, way beyond what one imagines humanly possible’.
Turbo-charged Neset’s playing certainly is: he idles in bustling vitality, then moves swiftly up through the gears until he achieves ferocious climaxes, his multi-textured horn propelled by one of the liveliest (and subtlest) rhythm sections in European jazz: bassist Jasper Høiby and drummer Anton Eger, the partnership that injects so much vibrancy into Phronesis. Admirers of the languorous elegance of Lester Young, the rapturous grace of Stan Getz, or even the musicianly power of Coleman Hawkins, it’s pretty safe to assume, will find Neset’s approach a little over-the-top, but the appropriately named Golden Xplosion does contain the odd quieter moment, and Bates’s characteristic aptitude for selecting precisely appropriate keyboard textures ensures that Neset’s music is more nuanced than the sporting comparisons suggest.
The overall impression, however, is indeed one of hectic hurtling over tricksy, nervy time signatures, Neset’s acknowledged debt to Michael Brecker more immediately apparent than his professed admiration for Joe Henderson. This said, there is much to enjoy in this, Neset’s second album: the sheer brio of the group interplay (Høiby and Eger exemplary throughout), and the often exhilarating playing of Neset himself, who is undoubtedly a prodigiously gifted soloist and an open-eared composer.