Rymden+Kork

Bugge Wesseltoft, Dan Berglund and Magnus Öström expand their textural palette courtesy of the Norwegian Broadcasting Orchestra

812

The history of symphonic and orchestral jazz is as long as it is divisive. A marker of grand artistic ambition, or confected hubris? There have probably been more heroic failures than unqualified successes, but with so many accomplished composers and arrangers active in the world of jazz, the temptation to go big is unlikely to diminish any time soon.

Latest entrants to the field are Scandinavian super trio Rymden, regarded by many as the natural heirs to the Esbjörn Svensson trio. Of course Berglund and Öström have previous form in this space, 2016’s Symphonic E.S.T. project posthumously realising Svennson’s lost dream. This collaboration with the Norwegian Broadcasting Orchestra (affectionately known as Kork) treads a broadly similar path, retaining the essence of the trio’s music while exploiting a broader textural palette.

Although Rymden’s discography is as yet relatively small, their first two albums offer more than enough strong material to work with. Helge Sunde’s arrangement of Reflections & Odysseys gets the set off to a great start, the hard-driving theme augmented by sizzling John Barry-like brass. The orchestra wisely avoids trespassing on Wesseltoft’s brilliant solo electronics interlude on Space Sailors, while the cinematic arrangement of Söndan places orchestra and trio in perfect balance.

Berglund’s groovy Pitter Patter is a little stiff by comparison, perhaps the closest the set comes to a misfire. The two-part Råk grows from a thunderous Öström solo, and as the orchestra makes an ominous entry the mood suddenly turns dark. Terminal One hints at the enchanting melodies of the original, while the closing pair of tracks from Star Sailor are by turns reflective and joyous.

Not necessarily the trio’s grand creative apex, Rymden+Kork nevertheless avoids the pitfalls of the form and is a worthy opus. 

Discography:
Reflections & Odysseys; The Space Sailor; Sender; Söndan; Pitter Patter; Råk – The Abyss; Råk; Terminal One; My Life In A Mirror; Free As A Bird (61.17)
Bugge Wesseltoft (p, kyb, elec); Dan Berglund (b, elb); Magnus Öström (d) with the Norwegian Broadcasting Orchestra (KORK), directed by Lars Erik Gudin. Oslo, 11 February 2022. 
Jazzland Recordings 377 951-2