duo of pianist Eyolf Dale and reedist André Roligheten
It was also great to see just how far Albatrosh—the duo with pianist Eyolf Dale and tenor saxophonist André Roligheten—has come since first encountering them as part of a JazzNorway in a Nutshell showcase in Rosendahl, when the two young players were still in school and yet to record their first album, Seagull Island (Inner Ear, 2009). While Albatrosh’s latest,Yonkers (Rune Grammofon, 2012), was a return to the duo format of its debut, Mystery Orchestra with Grenager and Talfjord (Inner Ear, 2010) provided a hint of what was to come when the duo collaborated with Trondheim Jazz Orchestra for its 2013 Molde Jazz Festival performance.
Mystery Orchestra cellist Lene Grenager and hornist Holde Sofie Talfjord—one-half of the improvising unit Spunk, along with sonic explorer/vocalist Maja Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje and woodwind multi-instrumentalist Kristin Andersen—were also on-hand for the Molde performance, alongside TJO regulars including trumpeters Eivind Lønning (back after a cross- Canada festival tour with pianist Christian Wallumrød’s Ensemble) and Hayden Powell, saxophonists Sissel Vera Pettersen and Eirik Hegdal, clarinetist Morten Barrikmo, Jaga Jazzist trombonist Erik Johannessen, PELbO tubaist Kristoffer Lo, violinist Ola Kvernberg (in his first of three appearances this week), in-demand bassist Mats Eilertsen and drummer Tor Haugerud. On hand, as well, was Andreas Paleologos, who created in-the-moment drawings on a projection screen behind the group.
The music capitalized on the deep chemistry Dale and Roligheten have built over the past few years, and a language predicated on the saxophonist’s extended techniques that included softly articulated multiphonics and a variety of percussive textures. Expanded and orchestrated for the TJO, Albatrosh’s music was able to do things that it could often only imply as a duo, combining its intrinsic intimacy with a much broader palette. For one thing, some of this music actuallygrooved—at one point, swinging, even—while Roligheten was able to combine his extended sonics with those, in particular, of Lønning, whose experience in the duo Streifenjunko with saxophonist Espen Reintertsen explores similar territory. Rolgheten and Lønnning forged a particularly lovely trio with Lo on the third piece of the set, creating a gentle, warm ambiance that somehow managed to seamlessly come together as a single voice.
Knotty melodies, stop/start time and lush harmonies that made full use of the 12-piece TJO—and, at times, Pettersen, who occasionally put down her saxophone to sing wordless vocals to add yet another color to the group—as Albatrosh also provided feature opportunities for everyone in the ensemble but, of particular note, those from Johannessen and Kvernberg, who both seemed capable of just about anything. As the suite of music drew to a close with Dale’s gently dark, majestic playing and the horns softly swirling around him, the audience rose to its feet to give the group a well- deserved ovation. Whether or not this music is performed again, one thing is certain: a recording of this music isn’t just wanted, it’s needed.