Thursday, November 24, 2016

NORWAY: Karl SeglemNordic Balm (2016)

Whenever people talk or write about Jazz music it never takes long until someone mentions the magic between the musicians. If you never really understood what it meant but were afraid to ask, let Karl Seglem explain. For almost a decade the Norwegian saxophonist with a fable for all types of goat horns has been playing together with the Acoustic Quartet, three younger musicians. Together they translate into music the true meaning of magic in Jazz: discipline and freedom, trust and risk, feeling and energy. Plus: a lot of fun. Following ('09) und ('12) the new album Nordic Balm is the third studio album of this formation with Karl Seglem, pianist Andreas Ulvo, bass player Sigurd Hole and Jonas Howden Sjøvaag on drums. Thanks to constant touring since 2008 the four are more than well-rehearsed, they form a unity - a real band. This process in itself is important to Karl Seglem, he describes the three albums as a trilogy and regards Nordic Balm as the strongest and most important so far. But of course that is also due to the fact that the most recent album is always the most important. All the elements that made Karl Seglem's music so popular and successful come together on Nordic Balm: strong roots in Skandinavian Folk and World Music, a perfect balance of composition and improvisation, extremely skilled musicians and excellent sound quality. Yet there is also a pure joy of playing that urges through the cracks of this foundation and sometimes takes control over the band, for example on the manic goat horn heavy Fjordskimmr. From more measured songs like Lys i glaset to up-tempo tracks like Eidblome and the groove based Ned Dalen, that came to Karl Seglem on a hike in the Norwegian mountains, this sheer lust of playing carries the album and pushes it forward. Even Balsam, a song for Karl Seglems brother who is fighting cancer, never turns into a lament but instead celebrates his positive energy and will to live.