Drawn from the same 2020 sessions as last year’s Outer View, this collection is in no sense a gathering of the leftovers. While the first release showcased compositions from within the band, based on Grønseth’s bi-tonal scalar system, Inner View focuses entirely on the leader’s compositions. The group is augmented by the clavinet and Hohner Pianet of British-born David Arthur Skinner, and his often telling contributions are largely textural.
Sitting closer to the contemporary Nordic mainstream than its gnarlier sibling, Inner View is characterised by a lightness of touch and almost ascetic devotion to melody. Grønseth doesn’t entirely abandon his idea of the musical multiverse, but this time the simultaneously co-existing worlds of jazz, modern classical and Indian and Eastern modes seem to converge a little less violently.
Opening with the three-part Biome suite, built around a G# / A minor bitonal scale, the titles couldn’t be more suggestively Scandinavian. Part one (Deciduous) is a spacious ballad, and Grønseth’s liquid soprano is redolent of mid-70s Garbarek. The second part (Conifer) emerges organically from the first, an enchanting Vesala-like theme conjuring images of an endless dark forest, while the closing part (Tundra) sees Berg’s cool lyrical piano shrouded by Skinner’s otherworldly timbres.
Berg is prominent again on Bidevind (“Close-hauled”), its Eastern scales and mid-tempo groove eventually breaking down into an intimate passage of exchanges between Grønseth and Powell. A rubato interlude, Bismaksprøve, unexpectedly transitions into Bismaksvals, a romantic waltz, while the deceptively complex arrangement and pulsing groove of Birbingeren (“The Instiller”) display a certain kinship to Jon Balke. Grønseth’s tenor takes the lead on the closing Bi Litt! (“Bide A While”), slowing things down as we luxuriate in its beauty.
With another superbly crafted and adventurous collection, Grønseth is fast becoming an inescapable presence within the new Scandinavian jazz.
Biom: I Løvtrær; II Barskog; III Tundra; Bidevind; Bismaksprøve; Bismaksvals; Bibringeren; Bi Litt! (53.50)
Grønseth (ts, as, ss, cl) with Hayden Powell (t); Espen Berg (p); Audio Ellingsen (b); Einar Scheming (d, pc); David Skinner (kyb). Oslo, 22-25 November 2020.
NXN Recordings NXN2010