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Andersen - Somme - Luft : As Time Passes

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Joined: 22 Dec 2010
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    Posted: 20 May 2024 at 9:44am

recording of the week,Arild Andersen / Daniel Sommer / Rob Luft - As Time Passes

by Barney Whittaker 

When veteran Norwegian double bassist Arild Andersen teamed up to form a new ensemble in 2023 with Danish drummer Daniel Sommer and British guitarist Rob Luft, it was immediately clear that the newfound trio weren't going to be wasting any time. Coming together off the back of a quick period of shared bills, exchanged pleasantries and downed pints, contemporary jazz fans will now be able to bask in the glory of this new international trio and their creatively rich album, As Time Passes, which succinctly interconnects generations from across the European scene.

With a shared understanding of aesthetics and sound, the trio explore how their different backgrounds and musical viewpoints can be reconciled. Sommer, who was given the chance to work with a Scandinavian mentor as part of his postgraduate studies at the Danish National Academy of Music, chose to spend time under Andersen's tuition in Oslo, where the two worked on rudiments of rhythm and feel together in the context of a bass and drums duo for a couple of days. Andersen was quick to suggest Luft join the fray, having co-headlined a stage with the guitarist and his regular working partner, vocalist Elina Duni, as part of an ECM Weekend double bill at the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival, back in 2019.  

The group's first working engagement arrived just three weeks after the birth of Sommer's daughter last year, furnishing this period of new beginnings with an additional symbolic resonance. With a day's rehearsal and a select handful of gigs in Aarhus and Copenhagen under their collective belt, the threesome quickly headed into the studio before launching their original project in a seemingly covert fashion: "The reason there hasn't been much fanfare about it is because those are the only two or three gigs we've ever done!" says Luft. Fortunately, he reports that more performances are on the cards, but it's also vital to acknowledge the seed funding (which Sommer received from his native JazzDanmark) that allowed for the entire project to go ahead. Having secured a four-year grant, the drummer embarks on his documentation of Nordic improvisation & composition that will see him produce a trilogy of albums, not to mention a solid body of work in the coming years. 

So, how does this first chapter unfold? Well, the lineup of guitar, bass and drums is indeed a time-honoured one, and regular listeners will be no strangers to the unique combinations of harmony and melody that any well-matched rhythm section of this ilk can unlock. Pat Metheny's debut Bright Size Life (1975) featured a supple backline of drummer Bob Moses and the outlandish Jaco Pastorius on electric bass. John Abercrombie, another of America's most famous jazz guitarists, first experimented with the format on Gateway (1975, with an audiophile vinyl reissue coming later this month) along with Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette, before teaming up with Marc Johnson and Peter Erskine on Current Events (1986) as well as its eponymous follow-up in 1989. With more projects in this vein having been spearheaded by the likes of Wolfgang Muthspiel, Bill Frisell and Kurt Rosenwinkel, it would appear that the six-stringers have very much been at the helm of these trio outfits in recent jazz history – but all that changes with As Time Passes

Despite the bassist receiving top billing, this record thoroughly belongs to Sommer – at least, in the sense that Paul Motian's work may have belonged to him. Imbued by the sense of creative freedom he first established as part of Bill Evans' most lauded piano trio between 1960–61, the American drummer was pivotal in liberating his fellow percussionists from the duties of meticulously keeping time. And, I suppose you could say there is a similar sense of disenthralment as far as this unit is concerned, with each player awash with free-flowing musical suggestions and resourceful ideas that are bandied back and forth across the ensemble, three-in-one and one-in-three. Rhythm, of course, is the key aspect of this album's impending success. It underlies Andersen's delicately assured pizzicato lines and Luft's rainbow cascades of arcing mystique. But, most importantly, it so often trembles out of Sommer's elusive drumming, his firm hand always keeping us grounded as we leave behind Norway's sunless period of mørketiden in favour of Denmark's lyse nætter, its never-ending twilight or 'white nights'. 

With his partly subsidised project well underway, it will be fascinating to keep one ear to the ground in anticipation of what Sommer achieves next. For now, his goal of reeavulating Nordic musical customs under the modern jazz idiom – the ones instilled by his ex-mentor, now partner, over half a century ago, no less! – is off to a flying start.  


Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Barney Whittaker

from www.prestomusic.com

Edited by snobb - 20 May 2024 at 9:45am
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