André Roligheten: Marbles

The Norwegian saxophonist and band produce music rather more edifying than the polished turd that might be inferred from the press release


I much enjoyed the big-toned and rhythmically supple Roligheten’s work on his Norwegian compatriot Gard Nilssen’s recent ECM release Elastic Wave. The enjoyment continues with Marbles, Roligheten’s juicy and vibrant new release on Odin Records.

With the excellent Nilssen present, a distinctive band sound – featuring flowing, temporally diverse vibraphone and atmospheric pedal-steel guitar – does full justice to the leader’s desire to embrace both the historical and the contemporary sides of jazz, and to blend an awareness of the existentially absurd and the spiritual with what Roligheten calls “the down-to-earth” in life.

All the melodically striking compositions are by Roligheten and all evince a pleasing richness of tempi, dynamics, rhythm and tonal variety. Don’t miss the kicking band burn-up that is Twin Bliss, featuring some racy electric guitar from Lindström as well as some of Roligheten’s fiercest soloing of the session, or the following, lyrically pitched and ever-building Liv Sover.

The press release invites us to “Imagine that Sonny Rollins and Egberto Gismonti met on the beach at a yoga retreat in Hawaii and decided to make an album together!” For me the spirit of Rollins (hear the mellow opening calypso figures of River) is more evident than that of Gismonti, but the attempt to indicate something of this music’s bold bridging of diverse worlds and moods is understandable enough.

One has to wonder, however, whether the summarising and somewhat hilarious press image of “a unique [band] sound that carries Roligheten’s compositions on a golden stool” was an intended or fortuitous melding of matters spiritual and scatalogical. Whatever, Buñuel surely would have approved.

Sonny River; Ariel’s Song; Whale Waltz; Lagoon Mist; Pyramid Dance; Moon Shade; Twin Bliss; Liv Sover (49.32)
Roligheten (ts, ss, bs, cl); Johan Lindström (elg, pedal-steel g); Mattias Stahl (vib); Jon Rune Strøm (b); Gard Nilssen (d, pc). Ocean Sound Recording Studio, 21-23 March 2022.
Odin LP9587