These are the three things I thought of while listening to The Trees (Ilk), and while that may not make any sense at first, it may upon completion of hearing this album.
The Mark Solboorg Trio are Mats Eilertsen on double bass and Peter Bruun on drums, percussion and kalimba. The trio also welcome in Herb Robertson on trumpets, kalimba, and pump organ and Evan Parker on saxophone, kalimba, and gong, playing a style of jazz that is uniquely European but also never straying far from their American influences (with the only American performing on this is Robertson). While this isn’t all out free jazz, there is a sense of freedom here that isn’t heard in traditional jazz, and wondering where each of these musicians will take themselves and one another is one of the highlights of The Trees. Some of these songs come off like “a spaniard in the words”, where you’re not sure if they’re trying to come up with a solution, or are merely releasing the deliberation of possible ideas to display, but it’s fun to hear what they come up with. Parker’s saxophone work stands out in “Skyrækker”, and as he slowly moves into the background, the others layer themselves in future songs and it becomes less than individual songs and more as one cohesive piece. Even if you’re unsure if all of it should stick with one another or it’s just diverse influences placed under one umbrella, you listen because the listen is thrilling, and you don’t want to let go while flying through. Perhaps this is why they called this album The Trees. One can only wonder.
When one reviews a good number of jazz albums as I do, one can get overwhelmed by what comes across during any given month, if not week or day. I can’t imagine what jazz journalists go through. There has been an album that has been in my scope for about a week or two, and after getting a message like “hey buster, have you heard it yet?”, I thought okay, let me move it forward and take a listen. The cover short for Forget-Me-Not (self-released) by Yelena Eckemoff is simple: a photo of a landscape involving two houses in the background and a bit of farm land in the front. The sky is cloudy but the sun is about to rise or set. Anything could be on this album, but I knew it was jazz and after reviewing music for so long, sometimes I get a hunch and I hold on it until I listen, to find out if that hunch was correct. In this case, it is.
Forget-Me-Not is a simple trio album featuring Eckemoff (piano), Marilyn Mazur (drums), and Mats Elitersen, and together they bring the kind of great sensibility that one can often hear on jazz albums on ECM. Pick an era, and you may hear some of those qualities here. I think that I like about these musicians as they play is that there’s an understanding for the goal of the song, and they allow each other breathing room. In a song like “Seven”, you tend to imagine everything from snow falling to clouds crumbling as Eckemoff washes the rhythm section fresh as Eltertsen holds things together with his bass melody. At times, you hear this and may think of more adventurous moments from Dave Brubeck, especially on how Eckemoff plays in “Resurrection Of A Dream” as her group either jump around quietly or move forward into rush hour traffic, and it’s great when Mazur suddenly adds some nice percussive touches at the appropriate moments. This is just top notch jazz played beautifully, and whether you listen to this album in order of appearance, or play with the track line-up a bit (as I did, I created a playlist where the songs were in order by time length, from the shortest to the longest), Forget-Me-Not will become an album you will never forget, simply because it’s sounds like a recording that will be considered by some as a recording worth preserving. It’s not a “toss off” album, this is the kind of jazz I enjoy listening to and one I will recommend to anyone who comes my way. Like you, the reader of this review.