Following up his 2007 ECM debut The Door, Norwegian trumpeter Mathias Eick returns with the equally engaging Skala. This time around, Eick enlists an even larger batch of musicians to help him seek his musical vision, including Andreas Ulvo (piano), Audun Erlien (electric bass), Torstein Lofthus (drums), Gard Nilssen (drums), Morten Ovenild (keyboards), Tore Brunborg (tenor saxophone(, and Sidsel Walstad (harp). These folks provide a wide palette of tones & textures over which Eick can solo and weave his wonderous melodies over. In addition to trumpet, Eick also plays vibraphone, electric guitar, and double-bass on Skala.
Nothing here drifts too far into traditional jazz territory, instead, most of Skala has a very modern feel, with the majority of the tracks fluctuating between somber tones and slightly upbeat arrangements. "Oslo" is one of the best tunes here, containing some soaring melodies, deep grooves, and intoxicating soundscapes, while the quirky "Joni", an obvious tribute to Joni Mitchell, is playful and majestic. A slight change of pace is the complex "Day After", a somewhat jazzy-funk piece that has a certain Brecker Brothers feel thanks to the crisp trumpet & sax lines from Eick and Brunborg. Other highlights include the poignant title track and the dramatic "Edinburgh", the latter featuring some stellar piano from Ulvo, who sits triumphantly next to Eick's meaty trumpet melodies.
Plenty of variety and superb musicianship to go around on Skala, as Mathias Eick has surrounded himself with a fine cast here and put together a rewarding & enjoyable modern jazz recording.
- Day After