Graham Reid | | 1 min read
In keeping with our name – and love for the 10'' vinyl format – Elsewhere is pleased to point readers to this very pleasant limited-edition hand-numbered 10'' vinyl (with a digital download which includes an extra track) by this guitar and piano duo.
Norwegian/Scottish guitarist Haftor Medbøe and Swedish pianist Jacob Karlzon met 15 years ago at the Islay Jazz Festival in the Hebrides 15 years ago but the long-projected collaboration didn't come about until last year and these works were premiered at the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival.
Given their backgrounds – Medbøe having recorded with various Norwegian artists and now a jazz musician in residence and associate professor at Edinburgh's Napier University; Kalzlon equally accomplished and having played with Norma Winstone, Kenny Wheeler and Billy Cobham among others – it will be no surprise to learn that these are four meditative, spacious and quiet duets.
But the emotional coolness of much austere Scandinavian and European jazz isn't evident in these more romantically inclined pieces with telling titles: Waiting, Hope, Tranquil and Return.
Tranquil at the midpoint is elegantly spare to the point of delicious evaporation, but behind Medbøe's almost pointillistic and fluid playing Karlzon's piano lays out a delightfully slow and stately backdrop. The melody is so effortless it begs for lyrics to evoke pastoral reflection.
Return begins slightly more flighty and upbeat to fulfill the promise of its title and then really gets joyful.
And the bonus download track Happiness – with a somewhat intrusive vocal part by a woman singer, unnamed – evokes a mood of contentment more than effusiveness. She does seem an unnecessary element in an album which was doing just fine without a vocal part. So maybe we retract that earlier observation?
This is a pleasant, considered cycle and you can sample Hope from mini-album at Elsewhere and pre-order a copy of the tasty 10'' vinyl (released April 5) here.