Once, there were distinctive categories in jazz: for example, swing and bop, hot and cool, mainstream and third stream, free and fusion. Norwegian trombonist Braekke may have titled his enjoyable release Wilderness, but in reality this poetically conceived and scrupulously rendered music bears witness to the sort of category-eliding literacy which has come to mark a good deal of contemporary Nordic jazz.
It’s apt that the title track, which might seem to promise exploration of matters elemental, or primal, features elegant outings from Braekke, Riisnaes and Young, its mellow voicings and laid-back grooves far indeed from any “ur” terrain of deities chthonic or aerial.
Recorded for and released on Young’s small but already wide-ranging Oslo Sessions label, Wilderness features a distinctive albeit subtly deployed core sound of viola and guitar, trombone and saxophone.
Young’s variegated guitar contributions embrace both processed textural nuance and bite and finely clipped yet fluid, laid-back lines: hear Psalm Recycled, Gaia and Flow – or the brooding and cooking Trees Of Siberia, which features one of Braekke’s most fired-up solos as well as an eventual, moving atemporal duet between Zanussi’s arco bass and Skaslien’s viola – the last also to the fore on Yellowstone.
Zanussi has made a name for himself in all sorts of free improvisation but here contributes many a rooted, nudging yet floating groove – hear Gaia – interacting beautifully with Nylander. Enjoy the latter’s edgy, pushing potency on Trees Of Siberia as well as his unforced and unfussy control of tempo on the medium-slow Wait and Spare.
Riisnaes has long been acknowledged as one of the finest Scandinavian saxophonists, from his early days in the Arild Andersen quartet of the 1970s onwards: relish his tempered mastery on Wait, Yellowstone and the stand-out Flow. His presence supplies the icing on a tasty slice of Norwegian nourishment, many a country mile from rucksack fare.
For more information on Øyvind Braekke Sextet: Wilderness go to oslosessionrecordings.com/news
The Wait; Wilderness; Trees of Siberia; Yellowstone; Psalm Recycled; Gaia; Flow; Spare (47.36)
Braekke (tb); Knut Riisnaes (ts, ss); Bergmund Waal Skaslien (vla); Jacob Young (elg); Per Zanussi (b); Erik Nylander (d). Oslo, September 2019.
Oslo Session Recordings OSR 006