New York-based saxophonist and composer Seamus Blake (born 1979, England) joins the Bridges project once again for a bright display of artworks by way of follow-up to the original Bridges album, released in 2016.
Track one, Introduction, runs to one minute 33 seconds, and sets a kind of shining scene. Blake and his confreres, trumpeter Hayden Powell, pianist Espen Berg, bassist Jesper Bodilsen and drummer Anders Thorén promise agility, freshness and a high-resolution sheen.
The second cut The Clues is a fine exercise in modern Bop. This is substance, musical product that you can physically hold, not febrile, highly-strung jazz that might slip out of your grasp. Wayne Shorter has surely cast some influence on this fibrous, muscular adventure in sound.
This is undeniably urban stuff, with something rueful from the mean streets of New York grounding the obvious confidence. That being said, an angular, craggy Nordic landscape is the starting point and Bridges was originally conceived as a vision of musical bridge-work `between Norway and other parts of the world.'
Andromeda is a wistful ballad, with Blake pouring out rhapsody from knoll to knoll of his Norwegian dream. Slightly Behind is feline, like mid-period Miles Davis, with the great exemplar's feel for pause and restraint. The tune is built around a catchy, thematic riff, played in tandem on the bass keys of the piano and the double bass, it's a real innovation.
The Jupiter Line, with its impressive piano run, picks up pace with euphoric dash after the introspective Two, while Mareel essays a soulful, meditative thing with a touch of Coltrane in spiritual mode.
Thus the record goes, tripping fluidly between moods and tempos, but with a firm consistency to all this malleability. Recommended.