CD REVIEW: Jakob Bro – Gefion

Jakob Bro – Gefion
(ECM 470 9139. CD Review by Jon Carvell)

Gefion’s dedicatee, the late Ib Skovgaard, once wrote ‘lucidity is in the air when guitarist Jakob Bro plays’, and, with this sense of clarity, Bro’s first ECM album as leader takes wing. The first sounds emerge gradually during some three minutes of introduction, and even when the full trio arrives, the harmonic changes seem to happen organically, by mutual consensus, not because a bar line has passed.

Bro’s tone and some of his harmonic choices echo Pat Metheny’s classic Bright Size Life – a large shadow on the wall for a guitar trio on this label. The angular melodic hook in White is redolent of Billy Strayhorn’s classic Chelsea Bridge – but its general demeanour is more akin to Metheny’s heart-breaking Unity Village.

In And They All Came Marching Out Of The Woods, Thomas Morgan’s bustling bassline is juxtaposed with Jon Christensen’s discreet drumming – with these two at the heart of the trio’s ebb and flow. In the second track – Copenhagen – Bro takes a back seat, playing a patient ostinato whilst Morgan takes centre stage, and there is a meditative quality to tracks such as Lyskaster, with a beautiful melody which feels not so much crafted, as distilled or discovered. Airport Poem finds Bro at his most desolate, with a clear-eyed bleakness. Manfred Eicher’s trademark production wizardry lends a immediacy to proceedings, with each instrument feeling as if it were right there in the room with you.

Gefion does not reveal its secrets quickly, and there is no hurry to this music, but there is great depth. Absence is as powerful as presence for Bro; each phrase is perfectly plucked from the ether.

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