Nordic Connect: Flurry (2007)
The word "mainstream" has come to have virtually no meaning except perhaps that a regular rhythmic pulse of some kind (not necessarily "swinging") can be felt. In this respect, Flurry is a mainstream album, but from every other viewpoint, it is as adventurous as they come.
That the band's name, Nordic Connect, implies a Scandinavian connection is actually somewhat of a distraction from the music in that expectations of a cool, crisp, expansive and somber kind of music are simply, for the most part, not fulfilled.
Rather, the music is sumptuous and warm, with lots of gold, orange and yellow coloring in the images that are brought forth, with a feeling of personal connection and optimism that is very strong. Flurry is an invitation to smile and relax, but not by being saccharine, since there is almost always an undertone of "happy-sadness," as Ingrid Jensen calls it. This added ingredient creates a layer of complexity and poignancy that draws the listener in.
Ethnicity aside, the music's humanity comes from the deep connections between the musicians. The band's core consists of Ingrid Jensen (trumpet, flugelhorn) and Christine Jensen (alto and soprano saxophone) who are Canadian-born sisters, while Swedish pianist Maggi Olin is a Berklee College of Music schoolmate of Ingrid's from twenty years ago. Christine introduced drummer Jon Wikan to Ingrid and they ultimately married, while bassist Matthias Welin met Ingrid in Olin's band in Sweden.
While the nominal leader of Nordic Connect is Ingrid Jensen, since it was she who had the desire to bring her sister and Olin together, the compositional contributions are shared among the three women, and the band feels more like a cooperative. This shared identity is very strong regardless of who composed a particular piece.
The compositions were conceived as open-ended sketches, and the arrangements developed over time as the band played together. The thematic declamations evolve out a piece's opening strains, while the solos are logical extensions and outgrowths of the mood that has been set up. While each piece has its own mood and groove, they all share the method of organic development that tells a story, leading the listener through a clear arc of development and resolution.
Ingrid Jensen's name recognition has increased through her work in Maria Schneider's Orchestra, and one cannot help but hear a connection of musical outlook between them. Also, the two Jensens many times play lines in unison, blending together and creating a new sonority that is neither brass nor reed.
ArtistShare continues to create and support deeply satisfying and accessible music, of which Flurry is a fine example.
Track Listing: Flurry; Sweet Adelphi; Things I Love; Sweet Dream; Garden Hour; Seascape; Seafever; Cowboy; Breathe/Quadr'l.
Personnel: Ingrid Jensen: trumpet, flugelhorn, effects; Christine Jensen: alto and soprano saxophones; Maggi Olin: piano, Fender Rhodes; Jon Wikan: drums, cajon, percussion; Mattias Welin: bass.