Jacob Anderskov: Emerald

Sextet including cello and viola produces music of brooding intensity that reminds on occasion of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble


So many are the names in the contemporary jazz field, and indeed so numerous are the releases in that field, that my memory’s a little hazy as to whether or not I reviewed a previous album by Anderskov, so I’m no position to compare and contrast. There’s an upside to that in the sense that the field’s clear for me to offer the opinion that this release documents a body of music that falls outside of what might be called the usual, and in so doing marks Anderskov as a name to watch.

To an unusual degree the instrumental line-up, taking in as it does both cello and viola, is reflective of the music overall, which has amongst its qualities a kind of brooding intensity which is both sincere and uncontrived. This is exemplified by the lengthy opening track Smoky Quartz, which after a breathy tenor saxophone excursion breaks down into the kind of unassuming intensity that was once a mark of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble before undergoing a kind of congealing process which maps out another episode.

Ruby comes as close to the traditional as anything here, but while many of the countless facets of the piano, bass and drums trio are the first iteration of the piece they are usurped by reed colouring and a soprano saxophone solo which both maintains and enhances the mood. The music proceeds at its own pace, seemingly untroubled by earthly concerns on one level, yet in a way reflective of where we currently are in this fraught world.

Sunstone lives up to its title by being comparatively free of the prevailing sombreness, but anything associated with updated bop is deftly sidestepped – to the point where this reviewer feels unable to avoid dodgy notions of 21st century chamber music. This does Anderskov no favours, and is more reflective of a pointless scramble for labels.

Smoky Quartz; Beryl I; Emerald; Elkhorn Coral; Ruby; Amethyst; Beryl II; Sunstone (42.00)
Lotte Anker (ts, ss); Anders Banke (bcl, cl, af); Henriette Groth, (cl, vla); Anderskov (p); Nils Davidsen (b, clo); Peter Bruun (d). The Village, November 2021 & 2022.