Jan 10, 1999

In the cycle of jazz – Line Up CD 1999

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There are many ways to think in a new way, also in jazz. Two Norwegian musicians illustrate this in their own way.The year’s second registration is Thomas Winther Andersen, the Norwegian bass player based in Amsterdam. John Engels, the drummer also lives here, the saxophonist Jimmy Halperin comes from New York, while home for the guitarist Håkon Storm-Mathisen and the trumpeter Torgrim Sollid is Norway. The group LINE UP has existed since 1995, while the debut album comes out on Kari Seglem’s one-man company Nor-cd, which gave out the album on “Bare Jazz” (only jazz) this week, with subsequent concert in the capital. The key word is cool-jazz, a branch which has got its name from the recordings of Lennie Tristano, Warne Marsh and Lee Konitz, and “Line Up” has a legendary Tristono-version of “All The Things You Are” from 1955. The Norwegian cool-master is Torgrim Sollid and Winther Andersen wrote on the cover that to make jazz is just as much about bringing together the right musicians as it is about writing the music. The music in this tradition benefits from the method of making new compositions over “old” harmonies, writing in new lines at different phases, with a fascinating mixture of arranged and collective improvised music. Warne Marsh said in an interview I had with him that for him jazz’s ideal was to be able to go on stage and improvise from scratch.

In this style, the album opens with Winther Andersen’s arrangement of Jerome Kern’s “Long Ago And Far Away”. The underlying number behind the harmony patterns is not always so up to date as here, something which will trace the sounds to small guessing games, and a particular titbit is “An Odd Lee”, which is a back to front version of one of bepop’s final apprentice examinations, here performed by the trio Halperin, Winther Andersen and Engels. The project is carried out in grand style, with eminent solo performances. Not least I liked the fine, round, steady bass sounds of the band’s leader, and Storm-Mathisen has some really perfect guitar solos, to be judged in a number you certainly (?) will discover builds on patterns of the good old “Sweet Georgia Brown”.

With that we are once more in “the music’s cycle”, the question is what actually is “new”, or if the new profoundly seen is a cultural recycling of something old. In my eyes it is the quality of the result which is crucial, whatever label you attach to it. The year’s first two jazz albums illustrate this in their own eminent ways.

Roald Helgheim

Dagsavisen – Sunday 10 January 1999
Jazz on Sunday