Jakob Bro – Uma Elmo
(ECM 2702. CD Review by Tony Dudley-Evans)
This is the fifth album that Danish guitarist Jakob Bro has recorded for ECM, and it brings together a new trio with Arve Henriksen on trumpet and Jorge Rossy on drums. Recorded in August and September 2020 at Auditorio Stelio Molo in the studios of Italian Swiss Radio in Lugano, it was the very first time the three had played together.
The album’s title combines the middle names of Bro’s two children, his son Oswald Elmo and his daughter Dagny Uma (H/T Dan Ouellette). The album’s mood is created immediately on the first track Reconstructing A Dream on which Henriksen takes the lead and creates what the sleeve notes accurately describe as ‘a darkly lyrical reverie’ which is accompanied by quietly supportive moves by Bro and Rossy. Bro and Henriksen do seem to be natural partners, both known for a gentler, more contemplative approach to music. Rossy also fits in extremely well, and is happy to play this supportive role bringing cohesion with his subtle dynamics.
The pattern of this first track is repeated throughout the CD; Henriksen takes the lead and Bro seems content to play a supportive role providing coherence through the use of short phrases and atmospheric loops. Rossy’s drumming contributes to that coherence throughout.
To Stanko pays tribute to the late Polish trumpeter with whom Bro played for many years; Bro comments that Henriksen’s solo is very different from Stanko’s style, but the solo has a beauty that provides the perfect tribute. Music for Black Pigeons has a title suggested by the late Lee Konitz and this track serves as a tribute to Konitz with whom Bro toured in recent years. In those groups with Konitz in his final years Bro always paid great respect to the alto saxophonist, and this also comes across in the composition and the playing on the track.
On Housework, Arve starts the track on what sounds like a bass clarinet before reverting to trumpet. In fact, I’m told he was playing the trumpet with a saxophone mouthpiece and it is remarkable how close to the sound of the bass clarinet this results in.
Overall, there are eight compositions on the CD with two versions of one of them, Morning Song. The music is gentle, atmospheric, lyrical and ultimately very beautiful; my only reservation would be that the mood of gentle reflection does not vary at all on the nine tracks.