|From my piece in today's Musikkmagasinet supplement in Klassekampen|
Partly because the sparky and fiery altoist Carl Magnus "Calle" Neumann and the soulful pianist Christian Reim never made a studio recording together, their collaborations during the 1970s have become somewhat forgotten parts of the story of the Norwegian jazz explosion of that era. However, theirs were no less vital or vibrant than the music of their contemporaries, as exemplified by the reissue of Live at Molde International Jazz Festival 1976 and, in particular, the hitherto unissued Mona Lisa Suite, both recently released by Jazzaggession Records.
On the latter, recorded live in Molde in 1973, we hear a sextet lead by Reim, who also composed the suite, with Neumann on alto and soprano, Knut Riisnæs on tenor and flute, Ditlef Eckhoff on trumpet, Terje Venaas on double bass and Epsen Rud on drums. The first part of the suite opens with Reim's gently flowing piano tones over arco bass, and the piece segues via a folk music inspired fanfare into a soul jazz tinged landscape, marked by Eckhoff's expressive trumpet solo.
The second part opens with another intro by Reim, bluesy yet upbeat, but soon kicks into another gear, propelled by Venaas' two bass ostinatos, the first light-footed and eager, the second a deep and powerful groove, its bustling energy accentuated by Rud's delightful, alternating ride and hi-hat work, and agitating horn riffs, creating a launch pad for a saxophone solo that lifts off, soars, and rips and tears at the seams of the tune.
A highly recommended recording in its own right, but especially for anyone interested in what Norwegian jazz had to offer outside of the more famous ECM associated acts of the era. Vinyl copies are limited, but can still be found at stores like Dusty Groove.