Women saxophone players are often overlooked in the world of jazz, and possibly even more so in free jazz. Lotte Anker is one of the best of the modern female sax players in Europe, the continent's own Matana Roberts, but she is almost unknown outside of her native Denmark.
Classically trained, Lotte, unlike many Danish musicians who prefer the mainstream, took to playing more modern and outside jazz at an early stage, performing with trumpeter NP Molvaer and pianist Marilyn Crispell among others.
"Floating Islands" is her third album leading the trio with two well-known Americans pianist Craig Taborn and drummer Gerald Cleaver, and it's their best work to time.
To be honest,it took a lot of time,to be more precise - some years for me to appreciate this album. And the reason is not that it's too "out" or extremely hard to listen to. No, the problem is it is quirky on inexpectable manner. Quite meditative by nature, it combines Lotte's soulful blues-rooted ascetic free sax soloing over repetitive Cleaver tuned drums pulsation and Taborn's Waldron-like piano drones.Not like all three components are contrasting, but their combination is too unusual to be eaily accepted.
Only after Lotte's excellent "Birthmark" with her another trio, drumless one with Portuguese bassist Hernâni Faustino and pianist Rodrigo Pinheiro, where they play more usual energetic avant-garde jazz in strong American tradition,I returned back to her recordings with Taborn/Cleaver and finally found a key to this music.
Five compositions (two longer than 16 minutes),recorded live during Copenhagen Jazz Festival, are almost stunning example of musical magic, when slowly three artists just involve the listener to their own built world. What starts as dreamy and almost lazy meditative tune grows up to almost explosive complex sound castles, but never loses earth under its legs. Even in loudest(almost creaming) moments trio's music doesn't lose its beauty and doesn't let you go even for single moment.
All concert sounds as one good movie with own intro,story and drama,perfectly distributed in time and never losing the sense of spontaneity. Lotte's sax playing is quite warm,but never too soft or sentimental and the only thing listener wants is to hear her soloing more often.
Released on domestic Ilk label this album stayed almost unnoticed by many foreign, especially overseas listeners, and it's a shame. Find it and most probably you will be surprised how good their music is.