(ECM 472 4478)
It would be easy to pin the immediate identifiability of Mathias Eick’s music upon his distinctive trumpet tone and phrasing, but in fact it’s possible to place the opening title track of this album as his before he has played a note. It’s something to do with the chord sequence and the voicings of those chords, as well as the sparse yet full sound of pianist Jon Balke, bassist Mats Eilertsen and percussionist Helge Norbakken.
The title suggests the Norwegian has crossed the Atlantic in search of new inspiration, and indeed it is that area of the United States that feeds into the music on this album. Eick was on a US and Canadian tour and explains:
“We’d started on the West Coast and were driving long distances every day. I was beginning to get very homesick. Then we reached the area called the Rural Midwest and I suddenly had the strange feeling I was home. It occurred to me that some of the early settlers must have felt this way… Almost a million Norwegians left for North America in the 19th and 20th centuries, and eighty percent of them settled in the Midwest.”
In addition to the track Midwest, we get Dakota and Fargo; other titles are the names of months, one is called At Sea, one Lost.
The sound of Eick’s music – his penchant for a pretty and simple melody, the less-is-more arrangements, the subtle ebb and flow of tension, and carefully controlled climax, the heart-swelling lyricism – may be familiar, but the new addition – the grit in the oyster in many ways – is the presence of violinist Gjermund Larsen. Listen how he brings a rough, rural tone to his playing alongside Eick’s breathy trumpet for a thoroughly beguiling timbral mix on March, or how he adds an a folk lilt to Fargo and Hem. Larsen is of course accustomed to working closely with Norwegian trumpeters – he plays a vital role in Arve Henriksen’s The Nature Of Connections.
Most of the soloing goes to Eick but Balke is particularly eloquent on Fargo, and Larsen and Eilertsen get their chances from time to time. Overall, though, this is ensemble music and none the worse for that.
Another fine release from the trumpeter who seems to hone his musical style and fine-tune his production qualities with each release.
Categories: CD review