LISA ULLÉN — Lisa Ullén Quartet : Borderlands (review)

LISA ULLÉN — Lisa Ullén Quartet : Borderlands album cover Album · 2016 · Avant-Garde Jazz Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
snobb
Korea-born Sweden-residing pianist Lisa Ullen is probably better known outside of Sweden by her collaborations with another Korean ex-patriot, New York resident cellist Okkyung Lee. In Nordic countries Lisa is well-known as highly experimental contemporary classic/improvisational/jazz musician.

Ullen debut album as leader has been released right a decade ago. Even if "Borderlands" is third quartet's album, and the line-up isn't changed a lot during these years(the only different member on new release is bassist Nils Ölmedal,who changed Ulf Åkerhielm participated on debut album), Lisa Ullen Quartet isn't a working band.Just time to time experienced members busy with other works reunite for recording of some new material.Of all three other quartet musicians,trombonist Mats Äleklint is probably most known artist (member of leading Nordic jazz bands Angles, Fire!Orchestra, All Included,Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, etc).Drummer Andreas Axelsson is better known as singer/vocalist in different metal bands(incl. Marduk,Edge Of Sanity,etc).Bassist Ulf Åkerhielm is a member of less known but excellent Brus Trio,the band which recorded with Roscoe Mitchell,John Tchicai and Charles Tyler.

Still, the music on Ullen Quartet third album isn't typical Scandinavian melodic and eclectic mix of jazz,rock and Balkan rhythms as one could probably expect from line-up. One of Lisa's more "jazzy" project, the Quartet plays quirky mix of free jazz, contemporary classical avant-garde and free improvisation. There are lot of rhythms,overlapping structures and distorted trombone sounds, Ullen piano techniques are obviously influenced by Cecil Taylor (or better to say Masahiko Satoh - kind of "Japanese Cecil Taylor" with very percussive playing but differently from Taylor on Far-Eastern manner free of emotional coloring).

There are lot of silence as part of music, not everything works and 53-minutes long album sounds too long at the final part. But at their best moments Quartet demonstrates vital and even playful eclectic modern avant-garde jazz, influenced by everything and influencing many other musical genres.
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