Ed Jones / Emil Karlsen – From Where Light Falls
(FMR Records. Album Review by Tony Dudley-Evans)
One feature of the contemporary jazz and improvised music scenes is that many players move between more straightahead playing and a more open style. There is an openness and fluidity about the scene which is very welcome and is a factor in the current creativity of the UK scene.
Saxophonist Ed Jones is an excellent example of a player who is comfortable playing in a variety of contexts; he is a fine forceful tenor saxophonist steeped in the tradition of the instrument, but one who also enjoys playing in more experimental contexts, such as this one with drummer Emil Karlsen.
Karlsen is from Norway, but has studied at Leeds College of Music where Jones is a Principal Lecturer. The two of them created this excellent duo album, From Where Light Falls, in autumn 2020 with the titles of the tracks taken from from the month they were recorded so that we have October, November Pts 1, 2 and 3 and December Pts 1 to 4. There is a lot of variety in the music, both in the album as a whole and in the individual tracks. Karlsen explores the timbral possibilities of the drums and cymbals; Jones similarly explores the sonic range of the tenor saxophone.
October sees the two players following separate parallel lines, but closer listening suggests that Jones picks up some of the rhythms laid down by Karlsen. On other tracks, for example all four parts of December, the music differs from that first track, and Karlsen and Jones adopt a more interactive approach based on a kind of call and response between the two. On December Pts 2 and 3 they introduce very short silences into this call and response interaction, and this builds up the tension very nicely.
Two other features stand out: Jones on most tracks and especially in the three parts of November moves between more straightforward tonal playing into the use of extended techniques, and the creation of a range of experimental sounds; sometimes he will start in one mode before changing to the other, and quite often he will return to the original mode. Secondly, Jones gradually builds up to a climax before winding down at the end of the track, thus creating a very pleasing arc to his contributions. Karlsen is inventive throughout moving between leading the improvisation at times and at others strongly supporting Jones’ soloing.
This album is an excellent contribution to the ongoing tradition of the tenor saxophone/drums duo.