Wako & Oslo Strings – Modes for all Eternity
(AMP Records AT14. CD review by Mike Collins)
Modes for all Eternity is another imaginative and engaging offering from the creative hubbub of the Norwegian scene. Saxophonist Martin Myhre Olsen takes the writing and arranging credits on this diverting set that artfully blends the conventional jazz quartet line-up of Wako with the violin, viola and cello of Oslo Strings.
The ten pieces chart a course between tightly scripted, rhythmic episodes with interlocking parts, and moments of free-er blowing and collective improvisation, often over clattery vamps, Simon Olderskog Albertsen providing squalls of energy from the drums.
King of Kings starts with rubato flourishes from Kjetil André Mulelid’s piano and accordion like chords, squeezed out from the strings before a chanting theme kicks in over a rolling groove. Sappho’s Theme has an overtly folksong-like melody with attractive counterpoint and decoration woven around it before dissolving into a loose, open section out of which an exploratory and lyrical piano solo emerges and gradually gathers momentum. Carla wouldn’t be out of place on a Keith Jarrett album with it’s slightly wonky gospel rock vibe. Bass player Barour Reinert Poulsen digs in for a solo.
The heart of the set is suite of five pieces from which the album takes its name. Eternal is a jigsaw of rhythmic motifs bouncing around the expanded quartet, providing the material for another open, collective improvisation. I Died for Beauty has the air of a requiem with a marching momentum and voice like cries from the strings. Africanus settles into a polyrythmic groove whilst Rejoice, with the addition Erik Kimstad Oedersen on trumpet, concludes the suite with more exchanges of spikey phrases that eventually coalesce into a fevered climax. To complete the set, Song for all the Annettes and Cold Days, Warm Hearts turn to a more melody-led and atmospheric sound.
This music draws deeply on lots of ideas and traditions but brings them together in a very personal and distinctive sound. It’s well worth checking out.
Mike Collins is a pianist and writer based in Bath, who runs the jazzyblogman site. Twitter @jazzyblogman