Albatrosh: Mystery Orchestra with Grenager & Talfjord (2010)
Mystery Orchestra with Grenager & Tafjord expands on Seagull Island's mix of form and freedom, documenting an expanded group that, featuring cellist Lene Grenager and French Hornist Hild Sofie Tajfordmembers of the free improvising group Spunk, last heard on the fearless Kantarell (Rune Grammofon, 2009)was heard in performance at Kristiansand, Norway's Punkt Festival 2009, exactly one month before heading to Oslo's legendary Rainbow Studio to record this set of original compositions. Split down the middle by Roligheten and Dale, the music benefits both from more time together as a duo, and the quartet's expanded palette and intimate chamber implications.
The group may be larger, but some of Mystery Orchestra is, if anything, sparer and more beautiful. With Grenager handling the low end, the eminently singable melody of the gentle, waltz-time "Hansen's Stroll" dissolves into complete spontaneity, though with Grenager's bird-like, upper register harmonics, Roligheten multiphonics and Tajford's equally out-of-the-box timbral thinking, it's the freedom of calming stasis, as Dale returns with a gradually coalescing, arpeggio-driven pulse and improvisation that skirts the edges of specific delineation. Elsewhere, on "Derrick At P1," where Grenager and Rolighetenslap-tonguing his bass clarinetcarry the pulse, Dale and Talford's soloing is more overt, despite being passed between Dale and Talfjord, seemingly at will.
Hints of greater extremes pop up throughout a disc where the writing ranges from almost transcendental beauty to the same playful humor that imbued parts of Seagull Island, with Dale coyly and subtly quoting Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, as the band returns from the ether.
Classical music, in fact, informs the 50-minute set as much as the jazz tradition, with the augmented Albatrosh, at times, occupy a space similar to trumpeter Dave Douglas' late 1990s string quintet. As Roligheten and Dale continue to hone their collective voice, Mystery Orchestra with Grenager & Tafjord represents further compositional growth for these two young players, and a rare capacity for retaining the near-naked intimacy of a duo, even in the more expansive context of a quartet that brings its own definition to the term "chamber jazz."
Track Listing: Hansen's Stroll; Derrick At P1; Albatrosh On Skies; Bubba The Hut; Mystery Orchestra; Rapla; Albatroshing; Shades of This.
Personnel: André Roligheten: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Eyolf Dale: piano; Lene Grenager: cello; Hild Sofie Tafjord: French Horn.
Record Label: Inner Ear