Thursday, April 16, 2015

Zanussi 5, Live in Coimbra

Composer-bassist Per Zanussi and his Zanussi 5 have something very together happening which you can hear readily and excitingly on their recent Live in Coimbra (Clean Feed 314). They are an excellent illustration of what's going on today in the vibrant European improv-jazz scene.

Though only a quintet they have a deceptively large sound thanks to Zanussi's effective compositional use of a three-horn frontline and the interaction the three get going on this set. Kjetil Moster gets some good sounds on tenor, soprano and clarinet; Jorgen Mathisen expands the sound with his tenor and clarinet; and Eirik Hegdal rounds it all out on baritone and clarinet. As a clarinet trio they sound very striking but the various combinations via doubling give us plenty of additional sound color variations which Zanussi puts to very good use. The rhythm section has drive and presence with Per of course playing a central pivotal role on bass, riffing, improvising and anchoring everything very well. Gard Nilssen has a vibrant and swinging presence on drums.

The compositional routines are invigorating, with the three-horn lines defining the sound well and the individual soloing communicating nicely as do the interactive three-ways that come to the forefront now and again. I like especially Hegdal's baritone acrobatics, but everybody sounds quite good.

The music has an original feel, an accomplished togetherness and individuality. Zanussi writes some beautiful charts. It is new jazz of real stature! I heartily recommend you hear this.

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