Mats Eilertsen: And Then Comes The Night (ECM 2619)

2619 X

Mats Eilertsen
And Then Comes The Night

Harmen Fraanje piano
Mats Eilertsen double bass
Thomas Strønen drums
Recorded May 2018, Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI, Lugano
Engineer: Stefano Amerio
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Release date: February 1, 2019

A feeling of transcendence occurs the moment Harmen Fraanje’s pianism wraps its arms around you in “22,” the introduction to bassist Mats Eilertsen’s And Then Comes The Night. And as the brushes of drummer Thomas Strønen complete the triangle, you find yourself being ushered through a portal unlike any other to a space where harmony whispers between every air molecule. That this tune—one of Eilertsen’s—also closes the album in variation is testament to the circularity of life, the very dust from which melodies arise and to which they must return.

The spontaneous creations of “Perpetum” and “Then Comes The Night” yield the most intimate moments of the session. Whether in the former’s subterranean percussion and arco bassing or the latter’s angular pianism, passion exudes from the pores of this music’s skin. This is by no stretch of the imagination a group in search of a groove or means to convey it, but rather, as in the Fraanje-penned “Albatross” and “Soften,” concerns itself with memories in the making. The piano/bass duets of “After The Rain” and “Solace” underscore the necessity of climate in their evocation of wind and stillness. In both, comfort is achieved by virtue of awareness alone. This is playing that relies on faith to shield its feet from burning sands and frozen tundra alike.

In Eilertsen’s own “Sirens” and “The Void,” mosaics dissolve into watercolor and vice versa. Each is a window into the other, flush to the touch yet visually dimorphous in contrast, and the second in particular cradles the most nocturnal of bass solos.

Although this album represents a decade of R&D in the trio’s laboratory, and follows two appearances on the Hubro label, you might just feel a genesis at play, reaching tendril after tendril from darkness into light, until galaxies are drawn together into one amorphous whole, spinning quietly if for no other reason than to hear itself sing.

Mats Eilertsen: Rubicon (ECM 2469)

Rubicon

Mats Eilertsen
Rubicon

Trygve Seim tenor and soprano saxophones
Eirik Hegdal soprano and baritone saxophones, clarinet, bass clarinet
Thomas T Dahl guitar
Rob Waring marimba, vibraphone
Harmen Fraanje piano, Fender Rhodes
Mats Eilertsen double bass
Olavi Louhivuori drums
Recorded May 2015 at Rainbow Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher
Release date: July 29, 2016

The result of a VossaJazz Festival commission by Trude Storheim in April of 2014, Rubicon presents bassist and longtime ECM sideman Mats Eilertsen as a leader in his own right. At its core is Eilertsen’s Skydive Trio with guitarist Thomas T Dahl and drummer Olavi Louhivuori. To that nexus he adds saxophonists Eirik Hegdal and Trygve Seim, pianist Harmen Fraanje, and vibraphonist Rob Waring for an eminently integrated atmosphere.

The album ends where others would begin: with an “Introitus” of inward proportions. This trio for bass clarinet, bass, and marimba reconfigures finality as an open door, turning the very idea of a destination in on itself until the journey becomes self-fulfilling. “Wood and Water” explores freely improvised territory with the same combination of instruments in the set’s emotional zenith.

Particular musicians lend sanctity to the unplanned. Fraanje projects his cinematic monologue “Cross the Creek,” while Dahl treads meteorically across the expanse of “BluBlue” without ever looking down. “Balky” and “Lago” highlight the reed players, building towering intimacies from base elements at one moment, while at the next slicking city streets with late-night rain.

These attentive bandmates find deepest traction when working together, for unity is the wellspring of their integrity. We find it in the opening “Canto,” a roving suite of sun and shade from which Seim and Hegdal draw out hidden voices; in “March,” which unfurls its shimmering wingspan by way of vibraphone and guitar; and in “September,” which rewrites its own grammar as it goes along. In each of these scenes, sentiments are pulled as if by horse carriage toward spontaneous horizons.

Through it all, Eilertsen is an undeniable force, bearing his lyrical ache on a pillow of total respect for creation and the opportunity to share it.

Yelena Eckemoff: FORGET-me-NOT

Yelena Eckemoff
FORGET-me-NOT

Yelena Eckemoff piano
Mats Eilertsen double-bass
Marilyn Mazur drums and percussion
Recorded August 17 & 18, 2011
STC Recording Studios, Copenhagen, Denmark
Engineer: Andreas Hviid
Mixed by Rich Breen, Burbank, CA
Produced by Yelena Eckemoff

Readers of between sound and space will, I hope, be familiar with Yelena Eckemoff, who has been skirting the ECM fringe for some time now in her working relationships with such artists as Peter Erskine and, most recently, Marilyn Mazur. The latter provides a crisp and delectable palette to the Russian-born pianist’s latest effort, FORGET-me-NOT, which also features Tord Gustavsen recruit Mats Eilertsen on bass. From the breathy clusters of “Resurrection of a Dream” it is clear that Eckemoff has written yet another distinct chapter in the storybook moods of her compositional development. Against a backdrop of twittering percussion and arco haunts she carries us through this slick opener with equal parts style and fortitude, riffing on the ether with her most unbound pianism yet. Mazur is splendid on cymbals amid a bevy of colorful kin, Eilertsen firm yet sensitive, soloing as if in memory of the lullaby that brought us here. Thus set, the album’s tone moves in shades through the child-like wonders of the title track to its densest dramas in “Welcome a New Day.” Along the way Eckemoff treats us to not a few surprises, of which the crumbling edifice of “Maybe” paints perhaps the most intriguing. The punctilious “Sand-Glass” further hones the set’s serrations and leaves us prepared to dissect the delightful little groove that is “Five” (in both title and number). Eckemoff’s classical roots come to the fore in “Schubert’s Code.” Making its timid entrance onto a stage draped with patterns of the nineteenth century, it nevertheless sparkles with clear and present reflections and showcases a real feel for detail. “Quasi Sonata,” on the other hand, rolls out the retro on a smaller scale and feels most like fleeting reminiscence. The pleasant dissonances sprinkled throughout “Seven” (in title but not in number) also bring us into the unexpected, a place where cascades and stepwise chains share a drink and a smile, while the more erratic “Trapped in Time” brings us into a swing to remember, replete with Mazur’s solid rim hits and spiraling energies.


(photo by Nicola Fasano)

FORGET-me-NOT is an album without borders, a gallery of animate snapshots that float on the wind. Its fluid transitions hang like a necklace from the neck of a mother who stares through the window of her past and finds a thousand songs to sing. Let’s hope this is a sign of things to come for an artist who continues to add feathers to her wings with each new release.