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Christian Wallumrød Ensemble: Outstairs

Christian Wallumrød has been a mainstay of Scandinavian jazz for many years now making his ECM debut No Birch in 1996. That was a trio album and since that time the musician has experimented with different formats playing with many musicians through the intervening years. He first played with drummer Per Oddvar Johansen over twenty years ago and has since been a mainstay in Wallumrød's sextet ensemble. Joining Wallumrød (piano, harmonium, toy piano) and Johansen (drums, vibraphone) are Gjermund Larsen (violin, hardanger fiddle, viola), Espen Reinertsen (tenor saxophone), Eivind Lønning (trumpet) and Tove Törngren (cello).

Outstairs is the prototypical ECM release; impeccably produced and played modern jazz with a classical twist here and there. It is a slow building affair and nothing demonstrates this better than the opening track "Stille Rock" beginning with isolated notes on piano. The tone is a little subdued; one can almost imagine a picture of dark overcast skies with winter about to converge over the land. The piano pauses in places, forcing the listener to remain focused and the other instruments gradually blend in seamlessly. "Bunadsbangla" is a marriage between classical and modern jazz with viola and harmonium offering deeper timbres. The instruments build slowly in subtle layers with a steady drum rhythm providing the backbone. "Tridili #2" features the sextet at their improvisational best offering a dissonant soundscape punctuated with shards of shrieking violin almost disturbing in nature. "Very Slow" is indeed just that and very quiet as well while "Beatknit" features some of the most intriguing piano on the disc with its pulsating rhythmic patterns before droning sax takes over the sound.

Outstairs is both innovative and challenging, a woven tapestry of improvisation and compositional form. It's a winner folks and another solid release from ECM Records.

Track Listing:
1. Stille Rock
2. Bunadsbangla
3. Tridili #2
4. Very Slow
5. Startic
6. Beatknit
7. Folkskiss
8. Third Try
9. Ornament
10. Outstairs
11. Exp

Added: September 29th 2013
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Label's Official Site
Hits: 1549
Language: english

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