Mike Walker – Ropes
Mike Walker, Gwilym Simcock, Iain Dixon, Steve Rodby, Adam Nussbaum and Psappha Strings
Released 15 March
Marton Juhasz – Discovery
Marton Juhasz, Yumi Ito, Sergio Wagner, Paco Andreo, Enrique Oliver, Szymon Mika, Olga Konkova, Danny Ziemann
Released 24 January
Daniel Herskedal – Voyage
Daniel Herskedal, Bergmund Waal Skaslien, Eyolf Dale, Helge Andreas Norbakken, Maher Mahmoud
Released 8 March on Edition Records
Bridges – Continuum
Seamus Blake, Hayden Powell, Espen Berg, Jesper Bodilsen, Anders Thorén
Released 15 March on AMP Music & Records
Vasil Hadžimanov Band – Lines in Sand
Vasil Hadzimanov, Branko Trijic, Miroslav Tovirac, Bojan Ivkovic, Pedja Milutinovic + guests
Released in January on MoonJune Records
Frostlake – Ice & Bone
Jan Todd, Terry Todd
Released 28 February on Discus Music
NORDIC CIRCLES is a Norwegian project conceived to bring together familiar and young performers from the Nordic jazz scene – and Under the Clouds (following first release Winter Rainbow) presents a balmy strand of cool, often meditative sounds from a sextet which features the gossamer vocal tonality of Siril Malmedal Hauge.
Established musicians Lars Jansson (piano), Jacob Young (guitar) and Jesper Bodilsen (bass) nestle alongside rising saxophonist Magnus Bakken and drummer/producer Anders Thorén to express nine mostly original compositions (either from Jansson or Bodilsen) which breathe life and light, principally through warm, easy-going conviviality rather than hard grooving. Nevertheless, the crystal-clear enunciation of Hauge – at times, reminiscent of Norah Jones – adds soft folk/jazz charm to atmospheres which seem to evoke the onset of shorter days (suggested by swirling Autumnal cover art).
Specific lyric-based songs such as homely, lilting A Beautiful Smile and buoyant waltz, Another Heart, are melodically memorable; and fireside miniature Om Natten (At Night), attributed to Swedish singer-songwriter Olle Adolphson, hints at deep-rooted tradition. But piano-led instrumentals anchor this album in accessible, feel-good jazz, Magnus Bakken’s rich, direct tenor lines in nimble Special One only embellished by the subtlest vibrato. Hauge’s wordless tones enfold the guitar-and-piano dreaminess of Ahimsa as well as blithe, sunshiny Orvieto; Jansson’s pellucid, almost levitational piano in freely-improvised Searching for Meaning hints at the quieter oases of Rick Wakeman’s music; whilst sparkling, high-flying bopper School Dance closes with infectious Herbie Hancock-like fervour.
From a series whose harmonious aims are to be admired, and which hopefully will continue, Under the Clouds does indeed suggest candlelit mindfulness and cheer as the nights draw in.
Released on 6 October 2017 and available from Proper Music, Amazon, iTunes, etc.
Siril Malmedal Hauge vocals
Lars Jansson piano
Jacob Young guitar
Magnus Bakken saxophone
Jesper Bodilsen bass
Anders Thorén drums
AMP Music & Records – AT009 (2017)