Marius Neset Quintet: Happy

As the cover may hint, the saxophonist presents something completely different, drawing on the pop, soul and funk sounds of the 70s and 80s


Any album that draws on pop, soul and funk influences from the 70s and 80s is fine in my book. And that’s what Neset has done here with an album that brims with joy and fun, funky electronics and some slow, thoughtful ballads to balance things out nicely.

Moving away from some of the darker influences that have shaped several of his compositions, Neset has opened up a lighter, more playful side of things. There is a carnival atmosphere to the title track as the simple theme develops, accelerates and builds to a climax. Nods to Stevie Wonder, David Sanborn and Kool & The Gang add to the enjoyment of this opener.

Wildlife is built around African rhythm patterns while A Hand To Hold, a simple, lovely ballad, pares things back. Washes of electronic sound shape Diamonds, giving the overall impression that Neset and his new quintet have had enormous fun playing around with different styles and sounds. That really comes over as the album progresses.

There is a slightly Monty Pythonesque look to the cover with its naked foot standing on a rock, but Sousa’s Liberty Bell doesn’t feature on the playlist. However, as far as Neset goes, this album could certainly be described as something completely different.

Happy; Wildlife; Good Night; The Unknown; A Hand To Hold; Kingdom; Hearts; Island; Diamonds (42.00)
Neset (ts, ss); Elliot Galvin (kyb); Magnus Hjorth (p); Conor Chaplin (elb); Anton Eger (d, pc). Copenhagen, June 2022.
ACT 9054-2