Out from cool storage
With a bag full of jazz’s cooling elements, the Norwegian based Line Up delivers a solid album with rare musical experiences.
From their base in Amsterdam the Norwegian bass player, Thomas Winther Andersen has mixed together an international jazz team, who deliver rare goods: a cool album, with more than a hint of warmth and nearness. Very listenable it is too, this product which has contributors from the Netherlands, America and Norway. If you like improvisational music which lets itself go, without you having any idea of where the journey wi
ll end, then Line Up is the ultimate detection. At the same time, the band adds a clear lyrical dimension to their playing which is elegant and playful. These boys allow themselves actually a lot more colour in their music, read: feelings, than some of cool jazz’s grandfathers allowed, and it definitely sounds like a step in the right direction.
Cool ancestors. But the lines going back into the past are clear. There is little doubt that the gentlemen who are Line Up, have musical preferences resembling the group which Lennie Tristano picked out for his famous sixtet in 1948. But noone must think that Line Up has entirely adopted the detached coolness and rather abstract approach which the blind keyboard master Tristano swore to, towards the end of his cool jazz life. Much more warmth can be found here than the genius would have ever accepted.
When Tristano became a success around 1950, he had with him the saxophonist players Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh as pillars in the band. And the very man, Warne Marsh has surely given Line Up’s musicians considerable nourishment over the years. In the 80′s the trumpeter in Line Up, Torgrim Sollid, collaborated closely with Marsh. The collaboration resulted in two albums, “Warne Marsh in Norway” and “For the Time Being”. This last album which came in 1987 was the absolutely last album the cool jazz player released. The album was recorded three months before he died that same year. The saxophonist in Line Up, Jimmy Halperin, recorded the album “Back Home” together with Marsh in 1986. He is also clearly influenced by Marsh’s sound, his lively and technically very demanding playing.
Improvisations. The collaboration between the Norwegian Sollid and the American Halperin is one of Line Up’s greates merits. Lennie Tristano was the very first player who gave his musicians the message to let themselves go, in the course of both parallel and triple improvisations. Indeed the musicians in Line Up do not discredit this tradition. It is intensely gripping to hear how Sollid and Halperin set out in different directions while they manage to complement each other. Just listen to how these two in Irving Berlin’s standard “How deep is the ocean”. It becomes even cooler when the group’s leader and bass player, Thomas Winther Andersen, creeps stealthily in on lithe basefeet with guitarist Håkon Storm-Mathisen on his heals. Neither does the very recognized Dutch drummer John Engels, discredit the tradition with his minimalistic and very precise playing. But he is also given much more freedom to contribute than for example Tristano would have permitted.
On the whole, Line Up embraces a large spectrum with their highly varied playing. From Halperin’s “An odd eel”, which is cool jazz at its most jagged and abstract to the lovely and dreamy version of Bobb Haggard and Johnny Burke’s standard “What’s new” where the wind guys give once again a good performance. Cool jazz is evidently not an unambiguous term. Fortunately.
Bjørn Olav Nordahl
” Dagens Næringsliv – Lørdag”
No. 7 – year 110 – Week 19 January 1999