The best improvisors are the ones that seem to invent and
uninvent their instruments right in front of your eyes and ears.
Swedish pianist Sten Sandell and Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-
Love are two musical champions with a long experience of doing
exactly that. Jacana, the latest in Rune Grammofon's occasional
series of unusual duo combinations, features the pair's sparky
improvised set captured at the 2013 Kongsberg Jazz Festival in
southern Norway. Sten and Paal have been working together since
forming a trio with Swedish bassist Johan Berthling (Fire!, Tape, etc)
in 1999, but this duet marks the start of a new chapter in their
relationship. Jacana's three tracks find the players flying close to the
limits of their comfort zones, sometimes resembling the strange
formality of Asian court music. It's savage and ritualistic, spiky yet
flowing, arhythmic but surging with understated pulses. Sandell
breaks into vocal overtones on “Tauri”, like some tranced-out
Mongolian shaman. He pokes around in the guts of Nilssen-Love's
rough surgical cuts and, at the start of the track acana' itself, pulls
out some ear-bogglingly rubbery notes from his piano's deep
innards. At the end of "Curvature” they break off from their
instruments and simply clap for a while. Two men getting down to
the essentials of what humans can do with wood, strings and skin.
Sten Sandell is one of Swedish jazz's most distinguished elder
statesmen, having worked unrelentingly since the mid-80s.
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