Saturday, November 29, 2014

Copenhagen Art Ensemble - Reuterswärd (2014)

Copenhagen Art Ensemble 

Lars Greve - saxophone
Tomasz Dąbrowski - trumpet
Ture Larsen - trombone
Jacob Anderskov - piano
Nils Bo Davidsen - bass
Bjørn Heebøll - drums
Qarin Wikström - vocals

Reuterswärd (2014)


ILK 223LP

By Dave Sumner

A tribute to the multi-medium artist Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd, the Copenhagen Art Ensemble captures his intelligence, imagination, and grasp of the whimsical and absurd. Incorporating Carl Fredrik’s own poems and writing into the music of "Reuterswärd" is a bit of meta-experimentism that provides not only more than a little intrigue, but also the benefit of each breathing new life into the other.

Trombonist Larsen’s punchy attitude on opening track "Saangmus" gives it a playful tone and a tempo like a leisurely parade, a playfulness that continues into second track "På samma gång", which possesses the buoyant cheerfulness of a show-tune and is accompanied by some delightful contrast of sparse brooding and nervous up-tempo excitement. Vocalist Wikström’s delivery balances a celebratory exuberance with a feathery wistfulness, shading the edges of happiness with a melancholy tone. Between the skittering of Heebøll’s drums and Greve’s streaky clarinet patterns, the song is provided plenty of challenges to maintaining its form.

"Forna tiders elegans" curls and rises with a melodic beauty. Pianist Anderskov and bassist Davidsen drive it from a heartfelt sigh to a sanguine hymn. It’s a nifty transition into the rousing beer hall tune "Den blinde", the kind of catchy song that gets shouted up to the tavern ceilings after a fun night with good friends and good whisky. The way in which Dabrowski’s trumpet harmonizes with Wikström as she climbs up to greater heights is positively magnetic.

The album ends with the 23-minute "Visa och på samma gång på samma gång". The smoky presence is matched with a pulsing tempo, and the writings of Carl Fredrik are carried along the surface of both. The song transitions from the tuneful spoken word casting of a spell to an easy-going love song to a much freer, wilder section that threatens to run away forever, yet returns, instead, to the same place from which the song began. Just an absorbing work of music. Intelligent, whimsical, and supremely beautiful. An under-the-radar gem that should not get passed by.

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