Hans Ulrik/Steve Swallow/Jonas Johansen: Trio (2003)
Johansen's light touch is apropos and especially evident on two Swallow compositions: "Self Exiting Circuit" and "I Fall Asleep Too Easily." The latter features a melodic bass opener that descends into a sleepy chordal undulation that allows Ulrik to lull with his sax. Swallow takes most of the risks throughout, breathing new life into the classic "After You've Gone" by setting a frantic pace. On Johansen's "The Girl With The Hair (In All Directions)", a predictable melody is dressed up and made interesting by the novel inclusion of a Galician pandeiro frame drum alongside a contemporary rock-edged bass line. "Exactly Backward" is an appealingly quirky mid-CD respite, featuring a hypnotic drum and bass meld over which Johansen plays a dissonantly sweet line.
Ulrik shows himself a versatile player able to adapt to a rhythm section that is not satisfied to serve simply as a slate on which his sax can write melody and doodle improv. Quite the contrary, drum and bass are high in the mix. They drive Ulrik's sax to sob and cry on the bluesy, though somewhat timeworn sounding "Brother J" and to natural thick honey on "It's Blue." Trio ends up being more than a forum for Swallow to display his unique talents. It highlights that in the right six hands, power and freshness is still possible in the timeless sax trio format.
This review originally appeared in AllAboutJazz - New York .
Track Listing: Self Exiting Circuit; Brother; I Fall Asleep Too Easily; After You've Gone; Exactly Backward; The Girl With the Hair (In All Directions); It's Blue; Tossing and Turning; Gung KRRR; Here Comes Everybody.
Personnel: Hans Ulrik: tenor and soprano saxophones; Steve Swallow: electric bass; Jonas Johansen: drums, pandeiro.
Record Label: Stunt Records/Sundance Music
Style: Modern Jazz