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Henriette,Mette: Mette Henriette

It's not often an artist will make as bold a statement as releasing an untitled double album as their debut release, but that's exactly what Norwegian saxophonist Mette Henriette has done on her maiden voyage for ECM Records. The first CD features trio music with Henriette, pianist Johan Lindvall and cellist Katrine Schiøtt. Over on the second, we see Mette's "sinfonietta" with thirteen players, a larger group that includes some familiar ECM names, such as trumpeter Eivind Lønning, drummer Per Oddvar Johansen, and the members of the Cikada Quartet , among others, all produced by Manfred Eicher in Oslo.

The trio music is lush, atmospheric, expansive, and at times chilling. There's plenty of room for each of the musicians to breathe and weave, as gentle piano cascades around soothing sax and alluring cello. "Once" is especially gorgeous, but it's the minimalist nature of "The Taboo", "But Careful" and "We Were Too" that provides some of the more haunting, expressive sounds. Henriette's gentle yet emotional style encompasses jazz, classical, as well as chamber, and while she never seems to soar into overdrive or veer towards bombast, her irresistible melodies make a huge impact.

The "sinfonietta" portion of the album is a totally different beast, as violins, bass, trombone, trumpet, and other instruments join the fray for a much more jazz oriented affair. "Passé" is stunning, as majestic piano melodies and leathery bass provide the framework for soaring sax, and the upbeat "Pearl Rafter" allows for a multitude of strings to take center stage for a brief yet wild miasma of sounds. "Wildheart" provides for perhaps the most dramatic explosion on the album, a swelling cacophony of bombastic classical and free jazz, with squonking sax, percussion, strings, and haunting piano. Many of the other tracks are shorter in nature and vary in style, but another real treat is the complex "late à la carte", a raucous piece that once again sees the leader delivering some screaming sax bursts over frenetic rhythms. It's these longer pieces that really work the best, as some of the short tracks seem to be little more than filler and sound unfinished and just thrown together.

All in all this is a pretty impressive debut, though I would have weeded out some of the unnecessary shorter tracks and kept this to a single CD. Mette Henriette will undoubtedly be a name we will be hearing plenty about in the months and years ahead.

Track Listing
Disc: 1
1. so
2. .oOo.
3. the taboo
4. all ears
5. but careful
6. beneath you
7. once
8. we were to
9. 3 - 4 5
10. hi dive
11. a void
12. the lost one
13. in circles
14. I do
15. O

Disc: 2
1. passé
2. pearl rafter
3. veils ever after
4. unfold
5. wildheart
6. strangers by midday
7. late à la carte
8. so it is
9. true
10. this will pass too
11. but we did
12. I
13. breathe
14. off the beat
15. wind on rocks
16. bare blacker rum
17. & the silver fox
18. behold
19. better unheard (yet to be hold)

Added: December 25th 2015
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Artist @ ECM Records
Hits: 2080
Language: english

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Henriette,Mette: Mette Henriette
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2015-12-25 06:21:10
My Score:

Bold statements require bold albums and bold albums require bold actions. Jazz (of all varieties) specialists ECM have provided both the bold statements and actions. Has their new muse, Mette Henriette provided the album of equal boldness…?

The statement is clear: enigmatic, dare I say, sexy shots of a young lady, sax strapped to her back, or part of said sax in hand, the rest left tantalisingly nowhere to be seen, as though invisible. A double album with no title and seemingly free reign for the artist to bring as much, or more to the point here, as little, as they see fit. These are bold actions and statements for which ECM deserve credit. However what Henriette has provided is bolder still; an album which demands you stop everything, and listen. Listen because this is enigmatic, dark, dense, sparse, exciting. But also because if you make the merest movement, the smallest hint of noise, then there's every chance you'll simply drown out the small but huge points of sound this double disc entity provides. In itself, in a day when we listen to music while we walk, while we talk, while we everything, producing an album which dares to disappear in even a glimpse of whispered breeze is possibly the boldest action of all.

Does it work? Well, yes, beautifully. If you can sit undisturbed for two CDs worth of subtle boldness. Yes, if you want to shut the world out and think about nothing but the music. Yes, if you wish to brush aside how the modern world tells you how music should be experienced all day every day no matter the circumstance. If you are unable to meet these requirements? Well, simply don't waste this album's time, for it won't be able to reward you and won't even pretend to try.

Disc 1, or should I say O, is a trio of piano, cello and of course sax. The pace is painfully slow, but in a joyous way, short tracks, some under a minute, suggestions of what may be, or what already may have been. Breathy, desperate and needy for your attention, but confident enough not to pander. It's amazingly mature, amazingly intricate, amazingly difficult to tie down or unravel, while simple to enjoy. oOo (you can call it disc two, but only if you don't tell anyone) has 13 players, hence many more texture possibilities, many more chances to sing and shout, many more opportunities to erase the mood of O and yet it chooses to do none of those things. A wider palette instead used to explore the same, but ever evolving landscape; cymbals, brushed snare and strings all combining to be intentionally less than their sum, but oh so greater. How can so many instruments make such little sound and still have so much to say? The excitement comes from its lack, the intrigue from how little is lain bare, but how much is hinted at. The album's brashness from the refusal to do anything other than keep the listener craned in, fully attentive and under a spell.

Mette Henriette is assured, she is confident. Her music may be quiet, observed and controlled, but never doubt that it is bold in action, bold in statement and bold in stature.

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