Palle Mikkelborg, Jakob Bro, Marilyn Mazur: Strands 

Trumpet, flugelhorn, electric guitar and percussion weave ultra-patient, often deeply reflective and abstract music, live in Copenhagen


Recorded at a concert in the Danish Radio Concert Hall, the music here is taken from two ECM albums by the much rated Danish guitarist Jakob Bro: Gefion (2014) and Returnings (2018). He’s accompanied here by two of his most esteemed compatriots.

The music is presented in liquid, suite-like form. It commences in lyrical, abstracted and ultra-reflective mode, with the stately Gefion eventually flowing into the three-way “little sounds”, variegated percussive drama and light groove of Oktober. Mazur and Mikkelborg then summon a strongly assertive yet strangely atemporal mood in the electro-dominated Returnings (the title track of the 2018 album but, I have to confess, far from being my favourite piece from the work of any of these participants).

Strands projects contrasting, subtle linear momentum: Mikkelborg casts beautifully measured lines over the skeins spun by Bro and Mazur, before Bro delivers his most full-bodied melodies of the concert so far, with Mikkelborg’s spatial aural poetry hovering and echoing above.

Mazur’s caresses become kicks and grooves as we fade down to audience applause and get ready for . . . further upper-register abstractions from Mikkelborg and some cooking percussion from Mazur. The following Youth has Bro at his most gentle, laid-back and lyrical and Mazur at her multivalent yet tempered best in what for me is the most arresting piece here, before Lyscaster summons a brief coda of ostensibly mournful Nordic musing.

All three players are some of my favourites and there are certainly many compelling moments here: a special word of praise is due to Thomas Vang, credited as the engineer on the date (and so, I presume, in charge of the sound-board during the concert) who captures and blends every nuanced detail of music which exploits a rare and refined dynamics. Overall, this is an ultra-patient venture which will reward amply a similar quality of – repeated – listening.

Gefion; Oktober; Returnings; Strands; Youth; Lyskaster (46.56)
Mikkelborg (t, flh); Bro (elg); Mazur (pc). Copenhagen, February 2023.
ECM 582 1696