The Source: s/t (ECM 1966)

The Source

The Source

Trygve Seim tenor and soprano saxophones
Øyvind Brække trombone
Mats Eilertsen double-bass
Per Oddvar Johansen drums
Recorded July 2005 at Rainbow Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher

Trygve Seim offers a second helping of his eponymous group. True to form, the egalitarian collective redefines parameters, shedding the string quartet from 2002’s The Source and Different Cikadas and focusing instead on the Norwegian saxophonist’s core quartet with trombonist Øyvind Brække, bassist Mats Eilertsen, and drummer Per Oddvar Johansen.

The lion’s share of the writing comes from Brække, who embraces extremes of mood and register. Approaching the set list from the outside in, one encounters the slow burn of midnight oil in “Caballero” (the title, of course, a reference to Don Quixote) and, one layer in, “Water Glass Rhapsody.” Both tracks go down like cold coffee, Eilertsen either flying high or growling, tiger-like, in the depths of abstraction as the horns ready their wings. Deeper mining reveals more upbeat ends of the spectrum, as in the Johansen-centered “Alle Blå De Er.” The drummer, too, shows range in his “Tamboura Rasa.” Through misty cymbals, singing bass, and the crackling kindling of horns, this highly descriptive track paints itself one stroke at a time. Although Seim contributes a single tune (the kinetically astute “Un Fingo Andalou,” a play on Buñuel and Dalí’s 1929 masterpiece Un Chien Andalou), he often carries the full weight of the band in his bell, particularly in Brække’s “Prelude To A Boy.”

The Source furthermore pays tribute to the label it calls home. ECM’s output has been of lasting influence among the band members, and it shows. “Libanera” gives props to its composer, drummer Edward Vesala, in whose last group Seim played. To that fortunate collaboration he gives soulful deference, digging some of his strongest trenches yet. The rhythm section is aptly attuned to his stubborn prosody all the while. The trombonist’s other themes cross even more hatches. “Life So Far” means to evoke Keith Jarrett’s Belonging lineup and comes as a welcome surprise after the quicksand of the album’s first half (it’s also where Seim takes a match to his tenor and reveals the fire behind the smoke). The funkier “Mail Me Or Leave Me” might easily be mistaken for a Dave Holland joint, while the concluding “A Surrender Triptych” is an homage to the golden age of Triptykon. The band even references itself with the Johansen-penned “Mmball,” reprised from its appearance on Cikadas. The resolution of Seim and Brække’s slight dissonances into smooth becomings, in combination with the rhythm section’s lyrical sway, makes for some quintessential soundings.

This is music in primary colors that looks to light and shadow for variation, and crafts along the way a warm welcome for any who might chance to sit down for a spell and listen.

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