I remember meeting Nils Petter Molvaer in Oslo in the late 1990s, while he was mixing some of his new music. Molvaer commented that making an album had become much like making a film, built upon edits of improvisations with the cutting in and blending of various segments. (Among others, Miles and Teo Macero might have got there first.)
This latest release from the curiously titled Mr Mibbler trio of Norwegians Thom Hell, Vidar Ersfjord and Jørn Raknes shows how far such matters have come. The trio invited the fellow Norwegians who feature here to send them a recorded improvisation, to be subject to the sort of processes which meant that, as Mr Mibbler made clear to the participants, “the resulting pieces of music will probably not be anything like what you are expecting!”
So the “auteur” factor of film theory and “the sound of surprise” long considered crucial to jazz are here taken to another level. Does it work?
Tempos tend to the languid and the emotional projection is largely in tune with familiar notions of Nordic wistfulness or melancholy. True, the stilled intimacy of Anja Garbarek’s brief, poised and compressed piece exploits pleasing micro-shifts of tone and mood, and the initial rubato impressionist musings of Andreas Ulvo (p) give way to some swirling electronics and sub-techno beats – an ostinato feature taken further in DJ Lindstrøm’s bouncy yet “dreamy” club-groove contribution (again with swirling electronics).
The pensive solos of Molvaer and Eick are up there with some of the best of their work and it’s refreshing to hear classical harmonica virtuoso Sigmund Groven (born 1946) in this sort of context. I was also drawn to the ruminative phrases of guitarists Knut Reiersrud and Bjørn Klakegg and tenor saxophonist Jørgen Munkeby. But at seven minutes plus, the concluding meditations from noted electronics magician Erik Honoré outstayed substantially the welcome I had happily been prepared to give them.
(1) Nils Petter Molvaer Meets Mr Mibbler (2) Andreas Ulvo Meets …; (3) Knut Reiersrud Meets …; (4) Lindstrøm Meets …; (5); Anja Garbarek Meets …; (6) Mathias Eick Meets …; (7) Jørgen Munkeby Meets…; (8) Sigmund Groven Meets …; (9) Bjørn Klakegg Meets …; (10) Erik Honoré Meets … (42.27)
Thom Hell (p, elb, v, elg); Vidar Ersfjord (kyb, prog, elec); Jørn Raknes (elg, other strings, musical saw, samples) with: (1) Molvaer (t). (2) Ulvo (p). (3) Reiersrud (elg). (4) Lindstrøm (DJ). (5) Garbarek (v). (6) Eick (t). (7) Munkeby (ts). (8) Groven (harm). (9) Klakegg (elg). (10) Honoré (elec). Plus (3) Frank Hammersland (elb). (5) Bjarte Jørgensen (d). (10) Erland Dahlen (d). Norway, c. 2021.
Naxos NXN 4005